Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Our Story: Gina and Katie

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 second in the series, and we’re thankful to both Out4Immigration and to Gina and Katie for sharing this story…

Cats Over Couples – Gina and Katie

Over five years ago, Katie and I met through mutual friends. The connection was immediate, and we spent the next week learning everything we could about one another until she had to return back home to the United Kingdom. As I sat in my house in Sacramento, I felt a deep sense of devastation – it was impossible to comprehend that I might have met the love of my life, only to be kept apart by discriminatory laws. Neither of us had ever thought about – or even heard of – the unjust laws that binational same-sex couples face each day. But as we remained in contact with one another and as our relationship developed, it became crystal clear what hurdles couples face simply to be with the person they love.

Over the past five years, Katie and I have had more than our fair share of struggles. The lengths we’ve gone to in order to be together have been financially, mentally, and physically burdensome – and it’s often a mystery to our friends how we have managed to stay together when we’re only able to see each other a few times a year. We maintain that we will not let the law destroy our love – and we’ll do whatever we have to do in order to stand together.

Across the years, we’ve faced unemployment, depression, accidents, and other trauma – similar to other couples, but with the added stress of not being able to face those challenges together and to lean on one another.

Last year, we had finally had enough and decided that it was time for me to live in the UK on a visitor’s visa. I had never overstayed my welcome in the UK before and knew that our time together would be too short, but it was our only option. I quit my job, packed up my belongings, and prepared our two cats for the long travel abroad. Once I arrived in the UK, I was immediately stopped. After a series of very personal questions, I was told that I was too old to be traveling for any substantial length of time, and that I should be married with a house and children at home in America. Over the course of the next 12 hours, I was held in two different detention centers, my belongings were searched thoroughly, and my personal journal was read by multiple officials – simply because of who I love. I was refused entry to the country in order to see my spouse – though our two cats were welcomed in with no trouble.

We have tried everything possible to legally be together – a (denied) visa application in the UK, a short-term student visa application in the U.S., and everything else we can think of. Katie and I will never stop fighting for the justice and we and so many other binational same-sex couples deserve. We believe that, by sharing our story, more people will understand the hurdles we face – and the very clear solutions to those hurdles. So many couples like us live in fear and are forced to stay in the shadows – but we believe it is our responsibility to speak up for those who have not yet found their voice.

How many more holidays must we go through apart? Will we have to celebrate our ten-year anniversary over the phone, as we celebrated our five-year anniversary? There is no reason for the United States to maintain these unjust laws other than bigotry, pure and simple. But we, as Americans, can choose to stand up and tell the government that we will no longer endure the pain and suffering being inflicted upon American citizens. It is time for comprehensive immigration reform that includes LGBT families so that we can truly be the land of the free.

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

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