An undocumented gay Irishman, Paul Wilson Dorman, is at the center of a major battle by the Obama administration to set aside the Defense of Marriage Act which states that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
Attorney General Eric Holder has asked the Board of Immigration Appeals to set aside their ruling deporting Dorman to Ireland under the act on the basis that the act is now being challenged in court and may be set aside.
His actions have once again put the issue of gay marriage and whether it can be acknowledged legally in America back on the front pages.
Dorman has lived illegally in New Jersey where he has a civil partnership with another gay man. He was liable for deportation after his undocumented status was discovered.
Now however, in an extraordinary move, Holder has halted the deportation and asked the The Board of Immigration Appeals judges to reconsider the case and judge whether Dorman can be considered a spouse of an American citizen or if there are other extenuating circumstances to keep him in America.
The Obama administration stated in February that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court and this is the first step in that process.
Dorman and his partner had already decided to take their case to a federal appeals court because they believed the decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals was based on the Defense of Marriage Act which they believe is unconstitutional.
The fact that the Obama administration has now jumped in on their side is seen as highly significant.
People who are facing deportation can ask immigration judges let them stay in the U.S.
Lavi Soloway, a New York immigration attorney and founder of Immigration Equality, a group that advocates for the immigration rights of gay couples told the Associated Press the Dorman decisions is long overdue because there is clear discrimination against gay couples on immigration issues because spouses legally marriesdby law in several states cannot sponsor their partners
"This is the right path. Until Congress can pass legislation to remedy this, the executive branch can and should act," Soloway said.