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Josh Vandiver, Henry Velandia ask Sen. Menendez to support DOMA repeal

DOMA Repeal

By Adam Bink

Many of you probably remember the story of Josh Vandiver and Henry Velandia, a couple nearly torn apart by DOMA whose saga as a married couple trying to stay together became a national flashpoint on DOMA. If you aren’t familiar, check out their CNN profile:

After many of you joined with Josh, Henry, AllOut and many other organizations to demand that the government stop the deportations, Attorney General Holder made a rare intervention in the case. Eventually, the Immigration Chief Counsel in the case halted the deportation.

Today, Josh and Henry joined with Courage Campaign to write a letter to their Senator, Robert Menendez. Despite last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA, and President Obama’s firm endorsement of the bill, Sen. Menendez is not one of the 29 Senators who are publicly in support of the bill, even while constituents like Josh and Henry suffer from discrimination under DOMA.

Already, constituents have co-signed their letter and left notes for Sen. Menendez. Here’s Lawrence A. in Livingston, NJ:

Please repeal DOMA. My life has changed forever after my partner was locked out of the USA in 2003.  The U.S. Embassy in El Salvador refused to recognize his NYC issued work visa in the paranoia and chaos of the post 9/11 State Department. Were we able to be married and recognized on a federal level, my soul mate and I could still be together today. I have a basic human and civil right to love who I choose to love.  Everyone should have this right.   Please do THE RIGHT THING and vote to repeal DOMA.

And John R. in Jersey City, who sums DOMA up succinctly:

My partner and I have been together for 35 years, yet we lack the basic legal protections that heterosexual couples who’ve been married for 1 day have.

Check out their letter to Sen. Menendez below, and most particularly if you live in or are from New Jersey, co-sign their letter to Sen. Menendez asking him to co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act. We’ll deliver you signatures and the letter to his office personally.

Courage Campaign

Dear Adam,

Please see the letter below from Josh Vandiver and Henry Velandia, a married couple in New Jersey who were nearly torn apart because of DOMA. Despite President Obama endorsing Sen. Feinstein’s Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA, your Senator, Robert Menendez, is still not a co-sponsor of that bill. Can you click here to co-sign their letter to Sen. Menendez? We’ll deliver your signatures, and their letter, to his office. -Adam Bink, Director of Online Programs, Courage Campaign

Dear Sen. Menendez,We write as a married same-sex couple on behalf of ourselves and many other New Jersey families who are being denied equality, out of concern over a particular piece of legislation.

Sen. Feinstein has introduced S. 598, the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the odious “Defense of Marriage Act,” or DOMA. We know you are a supporter of equality for same-sex couples, Sen. Menendez. What’s more, as the lead sponsor of comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes the Uniting American Families Act, you know that ending DOMA would eliminate the discrimination in immigration law that nearly forced Henry’s deportation, even though we are legally married.

It is therefore with surprise that we learned you are not one of the 29 Senators who publicly support the Respect for Marriage Act. As you know, Senator, this issue would permit the tens of thousands of same-sex couples — many of whom live in New Jersey — to have access to the over 1,100 federal rights and benefits to which heterosexual couples are entitled. These include Social Security benefits, health insurance, immigration benefits, tax provisions, and more. These benefits would strengthen New Jersey families by providing tools that help loving, committed couples and their families to take care of each other. What’s more, if the Respect for Marriage Act becomes law, this recognition would not stop when couples cross state lines — the lawful relationships of loving, committed same-sex couples could be recognized in all 50 states.

Through our Stop The Deportations Project we’ve joined with other same-sex bi-national couples who are being denied immigration benefits due to DOMA. Many are facing the nightmare of deportation and separation because of DOMA. We hope it’s an oversight that you have not yet joined your colleague Sen. Lautenberg in co-sponsoring the Respect for Marriage Act, Sen. Menendez. We, along with supporters of equality across the country, look forward to your prompt reply.

With respect,

Josh Vandiver and Henry Velandia

5650 Frist Center

Princeton, NJ 08544

Click here to co-sign Josh and Henry’s letter to Sen. Menendez!


  • 1. Alan_Eckert  |  July 28, 2011 at 8:55 am

    We just got updated employee handbooks at work, and there is something that is certainly noticeable since following the Prop 8 trial. The manual makes a point to say that the benefits for married couples also apply to those in domestic partnerships. It comes up every time there is a benefit explaining something being extended to or for a spouse. I understand that my company makes great strides to treat all couples as equal, but there shouldn't be a need to make the distinction as such. It's a reminder that there are others out there who do not see domestic partnerships as equal nor treat them as such, even though most in-state benefits should be exactly the same.

  • 2. Kate  |  July 28, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Alan, did you ever get to go up the tower?

  • 3. Alan_Eckert  |  July 28, 2011 at 11:36 am

    It's a true San Francisco summer (ie cool and foggy), and our timing just hasn't worked out. It is supposed to be good this weekend, but our photographer is in Hawai'i for a week! I'll get there soon, though.

  • 4. PBJ  |  July 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    i spent a good six months waiting to go up once–cancelled every foggy day, and how often do you get a clear one on the right weekend at the Golden Gate? But be patient–it's worth it!

  • 5. Skip in CA  |  July 28, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Alan, I hope your employer will always keep this distinction in it's employee handbooks. Even after true marriage equality is won, there will be same-sex and opposite sex domestic partners who chose not to marry for a variety of reasons. Because someone has the right to marry should not force them to marry against their wishes in order to have their relationship recognized and receive equal benefits.

  • 6. _BK_  |  July 28, 2011 at 9:02 am

    You have an awesome employer, Alan. We here can't wait until those distinctions are unneccessary. I have a question, though. If anyone was involved in the LGBT equality movement 10+ years ago, has society's acceptance of LGBT individuals and relationships progressed faster, slower, or at a similar pace to what you expected? Sorry if the question seems out of place.

  • 7. AnonyGrl  |  July 28, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Part 1

    I don't know if my answer would help, since I was not so much involved in the equality movement as simply surrounded by the LGBT community, but I can tell you my impressions.

    Before I got to college, (in 1983) I knew I was bisexual, but it wasn't something anyone ever really talked about, so I didn't really discuss it with anyone. My family experience was one of absolute acceptance; even though she was uncomfortable discussing it, my mother made a point of including the concept of homosexuality and that it was ok in our sex talks that had happened gradually since I was about 10.

  • 8. Rich  |  July 29, 2011 at 9:54 am

    BK, I was an (in the closet and married) middle school teacher when 3 juvenile boys (from my school) threw Charlie Howard (openly gay young man) off the downtown bridge to his death in a stream. At school, nothing was said, no discussion was had but, of course, the incident went viral. You all may remember it. Since then, (some 30 years later…I'm horrible with years), I am a very out teacher in my 37th year, now in High School, and an advisor to our gay-straight alliance. I'm also in an 18 year relationship with the love of my life. In short, the GLBT movement has achieved tremendous strides and the best evidence, for me, is that kids today have very few (almost no) issues with their gay peers as observed at our high school. Equally as important is that straight kids in our school are not afraid to reveal that they think the whole "issue" of gay (marriage, coming out etc.) is a non issue. Gay kids are open, comfortable and have the respect of their peers and teachers. My homosexuality is a non-issue, too. Yes, times have radically and wonderfully changed for so many of us but, of course, the battle for full equality is not over. BTW, as I understand it, one of the young men responsible for Charlie Howard's death eventually sought a form of redemption by becoming an active advocate for GLBT acceptance.

  • 9. Gregory in SLC  |  July 28, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Glad Josh & Henry and aligning themselves to repeal DOMA, as I noticed during the hearing none of the couples who testified/spoke were dealing with potential deportation issues.

  • 10. Ann S.  |  July 28, 2011 at 9:41 am


  • 11. AnonyGrl  |  July 28, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Part 3
    That was what made me aware that there even was a problem. I think after that I started noticing the slurs, the jokes, the characatures, the one gay person on the tv show who was always flaming and prancing, the prevalence of using "faggot" as a pejorative for everyone gay or straight. Watching that, and over the years seeing young actors in classes I was teaching or shows I was working on, and watching them dealing with their own issues, it seems that now, things are becoming more relaxed.

    Relaxed, yes. That is a good word for it. There are still problems and issues and dangers in society, but people seem, on the whole, more relaxed with who they are, and who others are. There seems to be much less concern about who is gay and who is not.

  • 12. AnonyGrl  |  July 28, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Part 4
    While some people still get very bent out of shape if someone THINKS they are gay when they do not identify that way, others, specifically younger people, I notice, are much more likely to say "Nope, I'm not gay" and move on to something else. And if someone hears that so and so is gay, there seems to me to be less whispering behind their hands about it and more "Really? Oh, say, did you see that Walmart is having a sale?" than there used to be.

    It is not, by a long shot, universally true. I may just be lucky to be in circles where that is more the case than others, but generally, that is my impression. Society is beginning to relax about the issue, a fact which I attribute directly to education, and people realizing that they know someone who is gay, and it is not scary like they were told. Or, in the case of younger folks, some were never told it was supposed to be a scary issue, so they just don't care if their friends are left handed, blond, great at crossword puzzles, musically inept, gay, short, allergic to peanuts, good about remembering birthdays or whatever.

  • 13. AnonyGrl  |  July 28, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Part 5
    Perhaps this means something. Years ago, the Gay Pride parade in NYC was all about who had the skimpiest, sexiest, most outrageous costume. It was a big, broad, insistance that we were fine, we were survivors, we loved each other no matter what. This year, there were people in costumes, and that was a lot of fun too, but to me, it looked a lot more like the general tone was "Hey, isn't this fun? And hey, we're here, we're queer, and it looks to us like everyone is used to it. Woot!" And that is as it should be, a celebration of the fact we exist, not a fight to be allowed to do so.

  • 14. Gregory in SLC  |  July 28, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Woot! Woot! (p.s. – always a treat to read expanded comments from Anony!)

  • 15. AnonyGrl  |  July 28, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Thank you Smoochies!!

  • 16. _BK_  |  July 28, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Awesome posts, AnonyGrl! And your last sentence pinned me exactly, minus the left handed and crosswords part. Creepy, but cool. Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed response. 🙂

  • 17. Ronnie  |  July 28, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Signed & added some of my own thoughts……

    Subscribing & sharing……

    New musical artist, Kitty Clementine, premieres music video for "Alone" which tackles bullying……<3…Ronnie:

    Her introduction from the video description:
    "I am Kitty Clementine, I make reality magical and I run hot on the heels of revelry. I am sharp, I am fierce, and I have stories you won't believe. So fluff up your feathers and run the road, be brave and wild with me. "
    [youtube CIDyC2adKoE youtube]

  • 18. Seth from Maryland  |  July 28, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    <iframe width="425" height="349" src="–P_9BQ&quot; frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    this is such bull crap

  • 19. Seth from Maryland  |  July 28, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    dang it, video did not come up

  • 20. Gregory in SLC  |  July 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    this one?
    [youtube S9hM–P_9BQ&feature=player_embedded#at=16–P_9BQ&feature=player_embedded#at=16 youtube]

  • 21. Seth from Maryland  |  July 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    yea thats it, see how that shit is in Austrilla?

  • 22. Gregory in SLC  |  July 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    That video is 1 yr old…Australia is evolving too. Penny Wong announced Nov. 2010 that she now DOES support marriage equality:

  • 23. Seth from Maryland  |  July 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Totally did not notice that, lol, anyway i really was not blaming Penny , she is in a hard position, but does not change my opiniion on their poilical parties over their, there should be a party that supports marriage equality

  • 24. FlexSF  |  July 28, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Circumcision ban removed from SF ballot.

    Can we have the anti-gay, gay-history ban removed too?

  • 25. _BK_  |  July 28, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Of course not. Certain people only want control… control over others' bodies, control over what parts of history children are taught, control over others' marriages, etc…. 🙁

  • 26. Sagesse  |  July 28, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    NARTH No Longer Providing Continuing Education to California Therapists

    Read more:

  • 27. PBJ  |  July 28, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Good catch! And great news. Some people might be surprised to learn that NARTH has a few gay-conversion therapists even in the San Francisco Bay Area that it recommends to interested parents.

  • 28. Sagesse  |  July 28, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    DADT Repeal Guide Answers Questions For Gay, Lesbian Troops

  • 29. Sagesse  |  July 28, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Gays Outspent Right in NY Marriage Fight

  • 30. AnonyGrl  |  July 28, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    From the article… "NOM’s filings for the first six months of 2011 show that it never directly lobbied any elected official."

    Makes me wonder why Brian Brown was wandering the halls of the Senate building… it does seem HIGHLY unlikely that he came just to sit in the gallery during the vote. Also, gotta wonder what the financial ties are between Jason McGuire and NOM, Jason being the one who is suing because he was unable to get in to lobby on two occasions and who led one of NOM's Let the People be Fooled into Thinking They Will Be Able to Vote Directly rallies on July 24th. And let's not forget NOM's close ties to Ruben Diaz…

  • 31. Gregory in SLC  |  July 29, 2011 at 7:33 am

    and probably the LDS Church. What struck me is that most of the funds for the opposition came from the umbrella fund called "NOM"

  • 32. James A. Tuttle  |  July 28, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    OHHH so the CA Supreme Court is hearing the issue of standing on Spetember 6th?? I thought it was in December?? Am I crazy?

  • 33. PBJ  |  July 28, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    It's been said that they might reach their decision by then.

  • 34. FlexSF  |  July 28, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    No, you're not crazy.

    According to this post, prop 8 shall move closer to it's overdue death on September 6.

  • 35. _BK_  |  July 29, 2011 at 5:28 am

    Will the issue of standing be decided later that month? The courts can take a long time to do things if they so desire, but they can also make a quick ruling, can't they?

  • 36. AnonyGrl  |  July 29, 2011 at 6:20 am

    Technically they could rule on immediately, I think. Or very quickly, anyway. It sounds like they are going to take another couple of months, however. It is a more complicated decision than just Prop 8, because this will impact future court cases about who can defend ANY Propositon in California.

  • 37. Openly Gay Actors; Minori&hellip  |  July 29, 2011 at 2:48 am

    […] Josh Vandiver, Henry Velandia ask Sen. Menendez to Support DOMA Repeal. Read more […]

  • 38. Ronnie  |  July 29, 2011 at 6:44 am

    ROFLMGAO……CryBB, a non-New Yorker, says Elizabeth Hasselbeck, a New York resident is "misled" because she called the anti-marriage protests last Sunday "uncalled for & tasteless" & that she found them "to be without taste".

    Brian Brown vs 'poor, misled' Elisabeth Hasselbeck

    1.) If you are going to quote someone. Do it correctly…..just saying

    2.) All of the toxic hate that was spilled out on that day by their anti-marriage protesters has been documented as well as all of the past hate speeches & writings the hate purveyors NOM aligns itself with have spewed out of their repugnant & noxious blackguard mouths, fingers….I would add soul but it is clear that none of them has one.

    3.) Elizabeth didn't mention his anti-freedom & anti-marriage cult….I mean organization by name but CryBB's arrogance instantly goes to attack her.

    No, no, no CryBB….poor misled CryBB….Your problem is that a good & moral Christian, conservative, heterosexual, married mother who happens to be a very high profile NY celebrity supports Marriage Equality & doesn't bow down to your noisome desire to control the personal & public lives of everyone who doesn't live their lives how you demand they do according to your autocratic & theocratic beliefs & definitions.

    Elizabeth said it exactly as it is, putting you in your "uncalled for & tasteless" place.

    CryBB is what one of my friends would call "butt hurt" & skimming over his diatribe one of those donuts you sit on isn't going to get the job done. A heterosexual Christian woman verbally kicked him in the @$$ on national television, even though she didn't really mention his organization by name but that wouldn't stop CryBB & NOM from misquoting Elizabeth to drum up more off beats from out of state homophobic pawns……people…I mean people…(sighs)

    I watch the show everyday. I step away from whatever work I am doing to watch "The View" & throughout my day I make sure to do what the hosts ask of their viewers. So CryBB, I'll end with this.

    Marriage Equality IS happening all over New York so "Take the time to enjoy The View"…….. <3…Ronnie

  • 39. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  December 18, 2011 at 7:06 am

    […] July 28, I wrote about the letter to Sen. Menendez from Josh Vandiver and Henry Velandia, whose story of nearly being torn […]

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