Friday, April 15, 2011

Jennifer & Elizabeth Struggle to Build Future Together

My name is Jennifer and I am a Canadian citizen. I first moved to the States in 2005 to start my undergrad at the University of Houston and I am currently working to finish my Master’s at the University of North Texas by August of this year. I met my now fiancĂ©e, Elizabeth, at GLOBAL, the LGBT group at the University of Houston almost 4 years ago. When we first met it was clear to us that we had a strong connection as friends and after a year we started dating. We have now been together for over two years and we are inseparable. She makes me incredibly happy and we are always laughing together. In March of 2011, Elizabeth asked me to marry her and I said YES! Elizabeth is American and has lived in the United States her entire life. This is the country that she calls home, and the country in which I would love to build my life with her. Unfortunately, because we are unable to have our relationship legally recognized by marriage in the United States, things have been rather difficult for us.

When I finished my Bachelor’s degree, there was a lot of uncertainty as to whether or not I would be able to remain in the United States with Elizabeth. I applied for something called OPT, which allows you to work within the United States within your field for a year after graduation, and I also applied to graduate school, which would also allow me to stay. I had to return to Canada to renew my health insurance and visit my family and I was unsure when I would be allowed to return to be with Elizabeth again, as I was told that processing could take up to three months. I was accepted into my grad program at the University of North Texas after only a month away from her, which we considered to be very lucky. Although it might not seem like a long time to wait, it is agony when you do not know exactly when you will be able to see the person you love again.

Although I absolutely love my Master’s program, a big factor in deciding to get this degree is that a job requiring a Master’s in Library Sciences is on the North American Free Trade Agreement list and it will allow me to apply each year to continue working in the United States. Unfortunately this is only a temporary solution, as this type of work authorization is given “without the intent to immigrate.” This means that at any point they can decide that you have been working in the U.S. for too long, and they can choose to not let you through the border. Although we have some temporary solutions, which is more than a lot of our fellow binational couples, it is still not a permanent answer. If Elizabeth and I could be recognized as legally married by the United States government for immigration purposes, we could both continue to live in the country that we both consider to be our home. Until that is possible we can’t purchase a home or settle down completely because we know that at any point we might have to leave.

I know that Elizabeth is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. She makes me so happy and I do not know what I would do without her. We have both discussed the possibility of moving to Canada if things do not work out here, as we both know without a doubt that we will do whatever it takes to remain together. Please help us repeal DOMA and work towards the passage of the Uniting American Families Act.  It is abhorrent that binational couples have to choose between their country and the person they love. We should be able to live in the United States together legally without the fear and uncertainty of the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment