Friday, March 11, 2011

View from the UK: Same-Sex Binational Couple Living in Exile Speaks Out

Guest post by Graham Adams

The United States is failing its most vulnerable citizens in the most appalling and barbaric way thanks to prejudice and discrimination shielded behind the guise of law.

The United States prides itself on being the world leader, yet is falling far behind many other countries in its stance on civil liberties and equal rights for all its citizens. How can this be in 2011?

In a country that has seen its fair share of discrimination, how can the US Government sit back and do nothing for the citizens who are crying out for help?

I have been with my partner for thirteen years, but six years ago we were forced to take a self- imposed exile from the United States on the basis that we are both male and because our loving relationship, not unlike millions of other Americans, is not recognised by the Federal Government and deemed unworthy of immigration rights.

Like many thousands of other same-sex binational couples living in constant fear of separation, the stress can become so overwhelming that it actually leads to illness, both physically and psychologically.

Rather than face the agonizing outcome of deportation due to me not being an American citizen, we decided to take charge of the inevitable outcome to our lives and leave the US shores for my homeland which recognises same-sex relationships for immigration purposes.

My partner is a US citizen. He was born in the US and spent over thirty years of his life there. He was forced to leave everything he had known and loved to move to a country he had never even visited. His family have been torn apart by this but understand his reasons. Emigration is a choice. Deportation is not!

Many thousands of families across the United States are forced to say farewell to their children, siblings and parents due to current discriminatory laws that prevent GLBT US citizens from sponsoring their same-sex partners to stay with them and become US citizens. Tearing loving families apart in such a barbaric, heartless way is perhaps one of the cruelest things imaginable.

We are now legally married in the United Kingdom, albeit called a Civil Partnership. We do not want, or expect special privileges in the United States. We simply wish to receive the same legal privileges as any other married couple in the US where one of the two is a foreign national.

My partner misses his home and his family greatly. We both terribly miss the lives we had in the United States, yet we are forced to remain in exile. My partner’s stepfather is terminally ill. His mother underwent open heart surgery a few years ago. What child wouldn’t want to be with his parents at a time like this?

Thousands of same-sex binational couples are being torn apart by unjust immigration laws each and every year. Many more thousands live in fear of being discovered by the authorities and are reluctant to come forward to share their stories and try to get the current DOMA law struck down, or legislation like the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) passed.

DOMA and unequal immigration rights do not only affect same-sex couples. They affect the families of those individuals. Would anyone want this heartbreak forced upon their children? Would anyone want to see their children flee to another country just to be with the person they have devoted their lives to?

DOMA is unconstitutional. It is barbaric, cruel and discriminatory, yet it remains in place. President Obama and the Justice Department have declared they will not support it. The time has come to stop denying law-abiding US citizens the same legal privileges and protections based solely on their sexual orientation.

Something needs to be done to remedy the discriminatory legal flaw that prohibits gay and lesbian US citizens from sponsoring partners who were born in another country. It can be done quickly with a simple adjustment to US immigration law through UAFA - adding the three words "or permanent partner" wherever the word "spouse" appears as a temporary measure. And, then it can be done permanently with DOMA repeal. However it is accomplished it needs to be done now - as each day could very well be the last day in America for a gay or lesbian US citizen with a foreign partner.

Photo: Graham and Nick enjoy all the protections and privileges of marriage in the UK, where they have entered into a Civil Union. Courtesy of the author.

1 comment:

Bruce Willis said...

This is a very interesting post.