The attorney general made the surprising move of suspending the deportation of a gay man in a civil union with a US citizen yesterday. The AP reports that Holder has asked the Board of Immigration Appeals to reconsider its decision. The board had called for the deportation of Paul Wilson Dorman to Ireland, even though he celebrated a civil union in New Jersey with his male partner—because the Defense of Marriage Act blocks gay marriage. Holder says there are two key points: Would the deportation would still occur if DOMA didn’t exist, and is Dorman officially a “spouse” according to New Jersey state law?
To qualify for a "cancelation of removal," a person must have been in the US 10 years and have a qualifying relative, such as an American citizen spouse or children. The Huffington Post notes that even if Dorman gets to stay in the US, that won't exactly translate into good news for all other same-sex couples fearing deportation: The board doesn't have jurisdiction over Constitutional issues, so any ruling it makes won't establish whether "same-sex couples face discrimination on immigration issues based on DOMA." (Read more Eric Holder stories.)