David Gonzalez is a 35-year-old Costa Rican who's in the country on an expired visa. He married his husband, an American citizen, in California in 2008. That marriage is still valid in California, but not in the eyes of the federal government because of the Defense of Marriage Act — widely known as DOMA.
The couple now lives in Houston. On Thursday, Judge Richard D. Walton postponed Gonzalez's deportation proceedings on a technicality. The judge gave both sides until the end of August to come to a resolution. John Nechman is the attorney representing Gonzalez. He says all he's looking for is a way to keep his client from being sent back to Costa Rica.
"He doesn't get a green card out of it. He doesn't get a work card. But it would be basically, we're going to stop this effort to deport you, because DOMA's on its last legs, we can all see that. It would be terrible to break up a committed couple because this law still exists, even though the President has found it to be unconstitutional."
Nechman acknowledges that his client is in the country illegally — and that DOMA, though facing court challenges, is still on the books. But he also points out that Gonzalez entered this country through legal channels. He says immigration officials have been known to show leniency to people who overstayed their visas, married an American citizen, and broke no other laws.
"All we're asking for is that my client get the same right as a heterosexual couple would. The only thing that keeps them from doing that is the Defense of Marriage Act. So there's no 'activist' issue here. This is an issue of pure fairness."
There have been similar cases in recent weeks and months that resulted either with postponed deportations, or the government dropping charges altogether.