Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Our Story: Charles and Mauricio

As we head into Thanksgiving celebrations, GetEQUAL and Out4Immigration are highlighting just a few of the stories of binational same-sex couples and the struggles they encounter daily in order to be together. This is the first in the series, and we’re thankful to Charles and Mauricio for sharing this story…

Dreaming a Dream — Charles and Mauricio

Early in 2011, I was doubting whether I would ever meet Mr. Right. I was 47 at the time, and decided to simply give up after years of trying, and just enjoy life as best I could and without fulfilling my dream of a family of my own.

About a month later, I went out with a few of my best friends for dinner and dancing. I was minding my own business when I looked up and saw the most beautiful smile light up across the room as my eyes accidentally locked with a stranger’s. I assumed he was looking at someone else, so I just kept dancing with my friends – until they began insisting that he was looking at me. My friend pushed me toward him, we introduced ourselves, danced a bit, and exchanged email addresses. I couldn’t hear a word he said over the music, but I didn’t need to.

Within a few days, we went out on our first date and – even with a language barrier – we knew from that moment that we would be together forever. He was in California to hone his skills in journalism and learn English – and, though he had a six-month tourist visa – he had only intended to stay for three months. At the end of those three months, he called up his family, let them know he had fallen in love, and decided to stay with me for the subsequent three months. It was truly love at first sight.

As our relationship grew, we began to more fully understand the scope of our situation – as a binational same-sex couple, we had no way to be together in the United States and, as a small business owner with aging parents, it would be hard for me to go to Brazil. He went back to Brazil for almost three months in order to apply for a student visa – while we waited to hear word about whether we would ever be able to see one another again. It was one of the worst days of my life when I took him to the airport – and had to simply hope that we would see each other soon.

After much interrogation in Brazil, Mauricio was granted a student visa. On November 22, 2011, Mauricio came back to the U.S. and we celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas at my mother’s house. It was so wonderful to be together again – though we know that our time together carries with it an expiration date.

We will celebrate the holidays this year together as a family as we dare to let ourselves dream of the family we want to become. We have decided on a date for our marriage ceremony, invited our friends and family to join us, and know that – one day – we want to adopt a child together to expand our family and share our love. Even as we dare to dream those dreams, we know that reality means the government will not recognize our relationship, leaving the country is not an option, and our life hangs in the balance each day. We can’t take the real and concrete steps to make our dreams a reality so long as our life together is at the mercy of the U.S. government.

Our story is one of true love – we’ll fight for our right to love one another and build a life together, even while the government fights to keep us apart. Our days together are numbered, but all we can do is fight with all we have – we have no other options. Though I was born and raised in the land of the free and the home of the brave, I now know what it is like to be considered a second-class citizen. We’re calling on the United States to strike down the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and to ensure that LGBT families are included in comprehensive immigration reform so that we can all be equal under the law and dare to dream our dreams.

Are you a same sex binational couple?  Do you have families / friends affected by this issue?  Please contact us at http://bit.ly/O4ICountMeIn if you are interested in sharing your story.

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