Sunday, September 02, 2012

Out4Immigration Meets Singer Brandi Carlile and Looking Out Foundation

by Kathy Drasky

Earlier this summer, Out4Immigration was contacted by the Looking Out Foundation, founded by singer Brandi Carlile. As part of her Bear Creek tour, Brandi was raising awareness at each show about a local grassroots organization. Out4Immigration was spotlighted as "the cause of the day" on August 28 at Brandi's concert in Arcata, CA.

As long-time O4I'ers, my wife Viki and I volunteered to make the 5-hour trek up north from San Francisco. Out4Immigration had a prominent booth space right outside the entrance to the theater, where we displayed some of the photos from the United by Love, Divided by Law visual protest project. While Brandi is an out-and-proud lesbian, her fan base is decidedly mainstream, which was great, because it gave us a chance to really educate people about how unequal the US immigration system is, and how the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) bars us from sponsoring our partners for green cards.

Brandi gave O4I a fantastic -- and lengthy -- shout out during her show, calling the discrimination we face a "civil rights issue" and one that is very near and dear to her own heart.

As it turns out, Brandi is in a same-sex binational relationship too. And, we met with her and her partner Catherine after the show. Having been a volunteer with O4I since the group started in 2006, I can say that I have heard hundreds of our stories -- and while each of our stories are unique -- in many ways, they are all the same. We each have experienced the inhumanity of feeling that we could be forcibly separated from the ones we love by our government, and have had to consider and implement difficult and costly steps to stay together. In this sense, Brandi and Catherine are no different than any other same-sex binational couple.

And we are sure we will hear more from them, after the tour ends and they take some much desevered time off to get married in Massachusetts in September.

Want to volunteer for Out4Immigration? Contact us at

Photo: O4I volunteers Kathy Drasky (left) and Viki Forrest (right) with singer Brandi Carlile. 

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