After DOMA: A couple freed from the threat of deportation
When we first met South Philly couple Anton Tanumihardja and his partner Brian Andersen back in the summer of 2011, they were picking out rings for their wedding in Washington, DC. As we wrote then: “For Tanumihardja and Andersen, the thrill and challenge of staying together through thick and thin is intense: Tanumihardja, an Indonesian national, could be deported at any minute. He’s requested political asylum in the U.S. since overstaying his visa in 2002 based on fear of persecution as a result of being gay, Catholic and ethnically Chinese, a triple minority in Indonesia.”
Even though they’re married, Tanumihardja has still been living under the constant threat of deportation, since the federal government did not recognize the marriages of same-sex partners. One Valentine’s Day, Anton was forced to say goodbye to Anderson and was actually already at the airport when the message came in from their lawyer advising that his deportation, once again, had been postponed.
Now that DOMA has been struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States, the couple will finally have a chance to move forward without facing the constant stress of possibly being ripped apart.
“I woke up [on Wednesday] and those were the headlines already,” Andersen says. “I had to text [Anton] because he was at work…. It’s definitely a big thing for us.” Without DOMA in the way, it’s a viable scenario for the federal government to approve Tanumihardja’s green card. Andersen says the couple is eager to plan their life together: “We’ve talked about starting a family, but we put that off because we were uncertain of the future. We’d like to go on a real vacation where we can go somewhere outside the Philadelphia.” (Because of his current status, Tanumihardja is not allowed to travel outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.)
Andersen notes that his partner’s birthday was Sunday. The DOMA ruling, he says, “was a nice little birthday present.”