Kerry seeks asylum for gay man wed in Mass
BOSTON — Sen. John Kerry has asked the Obama administration to grant asylum to a gay man who was forced to return to Brazil after he married a U.S. citizen in Massachusetts.
Genesio "Junior" Oliveira has been separated from his husband, Tim Coco, since August 2007, when he left the country after his request for asylum and an appeal were denied.
Oliveira asked for asylum in 2002, saying he was raped and attacked by a physician as a teenager in Brazil and feared persecution because of his sexuality. The Associated Press does not typically name rape victims, but Oliveira speaks openly about his case and allows his name to be used.
In a letter sent Thursday to Attorney General Eric Holder, Kerry said Immigration Judge Francis Cramer found Oliveira's testimony to be credible and his fear of living in Brazil genuine. However the judge denied the claim, saying the man "was never physically harmed" by the rape, the letter said.
Kerry called the ruling "outrageous."
"Tim and Junior have played by the rules since day one," Kerry said. "Junior's asylum claim is a legitimate one and has been recognized as such."
While Brazilians are generally more tolerant of homosexual conduct than their neighbors in Spanish-speaking Latin America, the country remains something of a paradox.
Judges have granted foreign partners in gay relationships the right to residence and have authorized civil unions that bestow many of the same benefits of marriage to gay couples, but many segments of society remain openly hostile to homosexuals.
The Executive Office for Immigration Review will not confirm or deny whether an immigrant has been requested asylum. The Department of Justice said Holder would review the letter and respond to Kerry, but would not comment at this time.
In an interview Friday, Kerry would not speculate on how the Obama administration might rule on the request.
"But I think that, in my sense, justice and compassion require us to deal with this as a valid asylum case," said Kerry. "(Oliveira's) safety is at stake living in Brazil, that's been proven."
At first I thought JFK had attended a mass and wound up getting married to another guy....