Thursday, February 24, 2011

Time is Running Out For 83 Year Old Veteran and His Canadian Husband in San Francisco

Another year of hope and anxiety, optimism and anguish passes by. We wonder: what will next year and the year after that bring? What obstacles will we face next, and how will we cope? Just as thousands of binational gay and lesbian couples in the US, my partner and I continue to await fundamental immigration rights that will permit me to remain permanently in the US, to enjoy our relationship free of any fear of being denied entry into the US, of being deported, and of facing a forced separation. Everyday, I worry and I’m scared. I want to add my voice to the effort this site aims to accomplish.

Our story is likely similar to many other binational same-sex couples featured on this site; I’m Canadian and my partner is American, and we’ve been inseparable since 1994. When we met, I had a busy and successful career in public administration, and he was recently retired from the airlines; it was love at first sight, to borrow the clichĂ©. For the first few years of our relationship, we didn’t give much thought to our status as a binational couple; by combining his time in Canada with my visits to the US, we managed to remain together within the confines of the immigration laws, ultimately avoiding cross border issues, even though I faced the occasional scrutiny at the US border given the frequency of my trips. And as the scrutiny increased, we soon realized we had to find an alternative, be it his relocating to Canada, or my obtaining a US visa of some kind.

But as the need for a solution grew, my partner’s heath began to deteriorate, making travelling more difficult, ultimately requiring him to remain in the US on a permanent basis. As such, and in order to ensure I could be with him, I returned to college and registered for classes as a foreign student, at great cost I might add. When my visa expired following graduation, I registered full time for a two-year Master’s degree program, which concludes in 2011, and after which I hope to find practical training and/or find employment that will provide me with a work visa.

But time is running out: my partner is now 83. As a veteran with increasing health issues who served his country for seven years, I find it incredulous and frightening that current and discriminatory US immigration policies may forcibly separate us, partners of seventeen years. Why should he be required to choose between his country and his spouse? What happened to his most fundamental rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, rights that he defended patriotically so other Americans could enjoy them? Every day, I wonder what will happen after my visa expires, whether I’ll be permitted to remain in the US and care for my partner, particularly at a time when he needs it the most, or be forced to face the nightmare that so many have unjustly lived?

After seventeen years, the US is our home; this where we have our lives, our friends, our family, and our hearts. Like others on this site have expressed, it gulls me to hear my straight friends complain about how convoluted they find the process for sponsoring their foreign fiancĂ©s, some merely six months after meeting. In seventeen years, my partner and I have been apart rarely, a fact for which I am thankful. Our hope is that despite DOMA repudiating our marriage at all federal levels, we’ll continue to remain together no matter the continued and long wait for equal rights. Repeal DOMA and stop tearing apart families.

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