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Lawmakers Fight To Keep Same-Sex Couple In NY

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Several New York politicians say they have successfully lobbied immigration officials on behalf of a same-sex couple.

LISTEN: WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reports


Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, along with Long Island congressman Timothy Bishop, say immigration officials have granted permission for South African Tim Smulian to remain in the United States for another year.

Smulian's visa expired at the end of 2011. He is married to Edwin Blesch of Orient and have been together for 13 years.

During their relationship, the couple has had to spend half of the year living in South Africa because Smulian was only able to legally be in the U.S. for six months out of the year.

"We always worried, you know, do we have to be out of here in a week," said Smulian.

But Blesch has HIV and is seriously ill and Smulian wanted to stay in New York to care for his spouse.

"Loving, committed couples deserve access to all the same immigration rights and protections as straight couples," Gillibrand said in a statement.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have now granted Smulian "deferred action'' status, which means he can remain lawfully in New York for one year.

"We can be able to sit down and relax with a cup of tea and we don't have to be packing up soon and leaving," said Smulian.

"Allowing Tim to remain here was the right and humane thing to do," Schumer said in a statement. "I am pleased that immigration officials had the common sense and compassion to recognize that."

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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