Tim Coco, 48, married and bought a house with his lover, Brazilian Genesio "Junior" Oliveira, 30, back in 2005 in Massachusetts. But their honeymoon period was cut short when Oliveira was denied asylum and forced to return to Brazil.
Oliveira first sought asylum in the U.S. in 2002, claiming he was in danger due to his sexual orientation and that he was raped as a teenager in Brazil. Sexual orientation has been grounds for seeking asylum in the United States ever since a ruling by Attorney General Janet Reno in 1994. Since Oliveira's request was denied the couple has been forced to live apart, communicating daily through video chats.
Immigrants like Oliveira are normally able to apply for residency if they marry U.S. citizens, according to immigration law, but the federal government does not recognize gay marriages under the Defense of Marriage Act. Oliveira's request to remain in the United States based on his relationship with Coco was rejected earlier this year.
Sen. John Kerry got involved in March, personally asking Attorney General Eric Holder to grant Oliveira asylum on humanitarian grounds. Kerry spokeswoman Brigid O'Rourke said, "The fact is that if Tim and Junior were a heterosexual married couple, they would never have suffered through more than two years of separation."
"We are profoundly sad," said Coco. "This is more than any married couple should have to face."