Thursday, November 08, 2012
Our path to equality and being able to live in the US with our partners just got clearer on Tuesday night when Barack Obama was reelected President of the United States.
After months of campaigning against anti-gay GOP candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, a pair that wanted to undo Obama's first-term LGBT achievements, in particular, his refusal to defend the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the neck-and-neck race broke for Obama fairly early in the evening for those of us here in California. It wasn't much after 8pm, after the California polls closed that the state of Ohio gave Obama its electoral votes and secured him the 270 he needed to win. That's when I snapped this picture of my wife Viki hugging our friend Fabrice.
Viki is Australian, Fabrice is French, and they are both in love with American citizens. But unlike opposite-sex binational couples whose marriages are recognized by the government and allow the U.S. citizen to secure a green card for his or her spouse, that door has been closed to me and Jared (Fabrice's partner) because of DOMA.
Viki and me, Fabrice and Jared, are just two of more than 40,000 same-sex binational couples fighting for the right to stay together safely and legally in the US. Countless others live in exile, being forced out of the country as the only way to stay together after visas run out. Some couples are forced to live apart, seeing each other only a few times a year. And others have fallen under the radar, staying together, but without papers. The very real threat of being torn apart by deportation present in their lives every waking moment.
Those of us who volunteer for Out4Immigration can confidently say that after this election, which also saw three pro-marriage equality bills pass (in Maine, Maryland and Washington), one anti-gay amendment be defeated (in Minnesota) and the election of openly gay Congressional candidates (including the first out gay or lesbian senator, Tammy Baldwin, in Wisconsin) that America has turned a corner toward marriage equality. It is only a matter of time until the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA. (Earliest predictions are June 2013.) Should the Supreme Court refuse to hear the California Proposition 8 case (we will know about this by the end of this month), we could have marriage equality again in California by the end of 2012! That would mean 10 states (plus Washington DC) recognize our relationships. The pressure would certainly be on President Obama and Congress to act accordingly in the administrative and legislative branches to do something federally, and do this soon.
In addition to all three branches of government moving toward equality, other good news on Tuesday was the clout of Latino voters. Latinos (as well as Asian-Americans) voted overwhelmingly for Obama. And as payback for this support they want to see comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). The GOP - in an effort to level the playing field and position themselves as champions of these voters for future elections - will probably finally reach across the aisle to work with Democrats to deliver some form of CIR.
Out4Immigration will continue to push all angles - for repeal of DOMA and for inclusion of same-sex binational couples in CIR until we end this discrimination, earn the right to apply for green cards for our spouses and bring home all exiled couples. That's the eye on the prize and it is within reach.
To find out more, you can listen to this conference call on strategy hosted by Immigration Equality today. Dial (800) 977-8002, and use code: *3761622# to access a recording of the call.
To do more, you can join Out4Immigration as a volunteer. Email me at email@example.com to let me know you're interested and then we can chat about some ways you can get involved in our all-volunteer, grassroots group.
We are finally moving forward! But let's not be complacent. While we are hopeful that the Supreme Court will do the right thing and CIR will include us, there are never sure bets when it comes to politics. Where there is a sure bet is in raising awareness and telling our stories - when we do that we get the court of public opinion on our side. And that will make all the difference.