Gay couple get a boost in winning bid to reunite

As posted by Maria Sacchetti on


"Tim Coco and Genesio Oliveira married in 2005, among the throngs who wed after the freedom to marry became legal in Massachusetts. But for nearly three years, they lived apart — Coco in Haverhill and Oliveira in his native Brazil — because federal law does not recognize their union.

"On Wednesday, Oliveira returned to Massachusetts for an emotional reunion after federal immigration officials took the rare step of granting him permission to stay for one year on humanitarian grounds, clearing the way for him to try again for legal residency. His return followed personal appeals by Senator John F. Kerry, US Attorney General Eric Holder, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on their behalf.

“'We’re overjoyed. Words can’t express it,’' Coco, 49, an ad agency owner, said yesterday from their home in Haverhill, where he had decorated his yard with yellow ribbons to mark their long separation. 'Every new moment now is a fresh new moment in our life.'

"Kerry called the couple heroes for persevering in their marriage.

“'Here were two people who loved each other and were as committed to each other as you could ever imagine, and a quirk in the law was being allowed to keep them apart. I just wanted to do everything I could to reunite them,' he said in a statement.

Kerry also praised Napolitano and Holder, saying, 'They really listened, and they righted this wrong.' Unlike heterosexuals, gays and lesbians cannot sponsor their immigrant spouses for legal US residency.

... "Humanitarian parole is temporary, but Coco said the couple might seek to reopen Oliveira’s case or try another venue so that he can remain permanently.

"According to the 2000 US Census, some 35,000 same-sex couples include one US citizen and a partner who is not.

... "Wednesday night, the couple celebrated with family and friends. They finished each other’s sentences. Oliveira whipped up a batch of chicken Alfredo, with strawberries for dessert.

“'It seems like I never left,' Oliveira said. 'This has made Tim and I stronger than ever. Our commitment for each other, I always say to him, is unbreakable.'’’

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