EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


May 1, 2008

Haverhill man's national ad campaign highlights separation from his gay partner

HAVERHILL — Tim Coco has spent nearly nine months without his husband, Genesio Oliveira Jr., at his side.

Today, the Haverhill businessman is doing what he does best — launching an advertising campaign. This one focuses on his international marital plight.

"The pain has become unbearable. We need to do something to get some attention," said Coco, 46, the founder of the local advertising agency COCO + Co.

Today, an advertisement is scheduled to appear on the back page of the Washington Post's Express newspaper asking President Bush and Congress to "Make This Right!"

The ad, which includes the couple's wedding photo, is a direct appeal to the government to have Oliveira, 28, returned to the United States from Brazil.

"The executive branch has the authority to grant (Oliveira) a visa now and Congress has the power to grant relief by any number of means," the ad reads.

Oliveira, who married Coco in 2005, voluntarily went back to Brazil last August when he could not get the government to recognize him as a documented alien.

Ever since, Coco, backed by a group of Merrimack Valley supporters, has been pushing to get humanitarian parole or other clearance for Oliveira to return to the United States.

In March, the couple filed a so-called I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative — the same mechanism heterosexual couples use to gain recognition for immigrant spouses. But the couple expected the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to deny the petition based on the Defense of Marriage Act, a 12-year-old law that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Coco and Oliveira also appealed to Brazilian leaders, urging officials to discuss the couple's forced separation when U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited South America. Coco said the couple's situation got some coverage in the local press. But Oliveira still hasn't come home.

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