Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In Miami, Maria & Lulu Fight Deportation in Desparate Struggle to Stay Together

I arrived to this country from Venezuela over 10 years ago, looking for a better life and a better future. Living in Venezuela was not easy, not only because I am a lesbian, but also because I had actively opposed to the Chavez government from inception because of it violated the liberties and freedom of speech of its citizens.  Once in the United States, I had the freedom to completely and freely come out of the closet, to have a job and work hard towards my goals of one day have a college education and build my own family. I worked many at many jobs. At one point people used to say that I’ve had a job for every letter of the alphabet. I learned how to speak English. I learn this culture, I learned to love this country as if it was my own, and I also fell in love.

My partner, Lulu, and I live a life just like any married couple, we rely on each other for everything.  When times have been tough, we have weathered all the difficulties together. When we get a break, we enjoy, laugh and relax together, and during the saddest of times we have also cried together. Our commitment to each other is much stronger that the many pieces of papers and legalities we’re not allowed to be a part of.

Times have been extremely rough with this struggling economy. We have gone through layoffs, barely making ends meet, so our dream of getting married has sadly been sitting in the back seat of our car which is full of to-do’s (because we live in Florida, so we must travel to a state where we can get marriage licenses). Still it is a high priority for us.  We hope to marry soon. Although we know that our marriage will not be recognized federally and we know all too well that it may not help in my battle against deportation, we will get married. We will get married because is not about immigration or taxes or any other benefits for us. It's because we love each other.  I don’t want to refer to Lulu as “partner” or my “girlfriend” for one more day. I want to call her my wife and for it to be real.

For the past few years, I have been battling an asylum case before the Miami immigration court based of all the terrible things that happened to me back home. My final hearing is scheduled for this summer. On that day it will be decided whether I can stay in this country. During this journey I had the help of people who gave me support and love before I met the one I call today my wife. My struggles to remain in this country legally have always seemed never-ending, but I am an optimistic person, together with Lulu we know our love can overcome everything life throws at us. We have had our fair share of challenges in the three years since we met.

Now I am confronted with new obstacles. My mother, who lives back home in Venezuela, has been diagnosed with brain tumor. If it were not for DOMA, Lulu and I could get married and she could file a petition and sponsor me for a green card. I wouldn’t have to suffer the impediments of being trapped here and barely able to make ends meet, fighting my immigration case and an unable to help my mother properly.  If DOMA was gone, I could finally live without the daily fear of being torn apart from the one I love, and we would live a life where we can concentrate on the hard enough day-to-day challenges without immigration or our DOMA being among them.

When we talk about our situation to friends and family, they are simply in disbelief that our current system doesn’t allow Lulu to sponsor me, they simply can’t believe that just by getting married the issue is not solved.  Most people  just don’t know about all these things unless they know someone in the specific situation and it has been explained to them.  That is why we have to spread the message to all voters so that people realize that DOMA is not simply a  “gay issue.”  The cruelty of DOMA and the struggle of binational couples is a social and a civil rights issue.  It could be your sister, your brother, your son or daughter in this situation.  Please help us fight for repeal of DOMA.

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