As U.S. 1 reported in its May 25 issue, one of the hottest dance activities in town is salsa, and one of its hottest proponents is Henri Velandia, a 27-year-old West Windsor resident, who teaches salsa at the Princeton YWCA, Princeton Dance and Theater Studio in Plainsboro, and Katmandu, the Trenton nightclub.

But hanging over Velandia’s head as he practiced his art was a weighty piece of baggage: The threat of deportation to his native Venezuela, despite the fact that Velandia is legally married to an American citizen. The rub was that Velandia’s spouse is Josh Vandiver, a Princeton University graduate student whom he had married in Connecticut, a state that recognizes same-sex marriages.

Last week the federal government announced that it had dropped its effort to deport Velandia under the terms of the Defense of Marriage Act.

One of the officials who had lobbied on behalf of Velandia and Vandiver was Congressman Rush Holt, who noted in a statement that “their struggle underscores the ongoing injustice, discrimination, and legal uncertainty that plague same-sex couples today. Although I hope that federal courts will soon rule the so-called Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, I will continue to push for its repeal so that no other married couple has to endure the fear and confusion that Henry and Josh lived with for so long.

“Over the past year, Henry and Josh have courageously served as symbols in the fight against marriage discrimination. I know that they will continue to battle discrimination in all its forms, but I hope that, now that their personal fight has reached its end, they may enjoy the happiness and peace that they deserve. They have my continued best wishes and warmest regards.”

#b#To the Editor: Thievery Blossoms In a Public Garden#/b#

I write saddened by what is happening in the public garden I maintain at the corner of Emmons Drive and Canal Pointe Boulevard in West Windsor. This garden is a jewel on a heavily trafficked corner and is admired by many on foot and in their cars.

Over the last three years, theft is becoming commonplace there. So far 100 feet of hose, a cement goddess figure I made, a large strawberry jar, and other smaller items have been stolen. One of the most disheartening thefts was of a plaque I made which read “A Garden is Heaven on Earth.” It’s difficult to believe that someone would steal such an item from another’s garden.

Please enjoy this garden but “Take only pictures and leave only footprints.”

Ronald A. LeMahieu, Sequoia Court, Princeton

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