|"DOMA defends no one's marriage. But it is crushing us."|
CJ made the long journey to North Carolina from the UK to visit for the first time last year. It was after that visit that I knew without a doubt that she is the woman of my dreams. When we are together, everything feels so right. When we are apart, it is, quite honestly, very painful. I suffer from migraines and when CJ isn’t here, I get them weekly; sometimes twice a week. When we are together I rarely get one. Every day that we are apart feels like a day wasted; a day that I should have been able to spend with the one I love; a day that I can’t get back.
Right now we should be happy. We shouldn't be sad and hurt from being forced to live apart. We shouldn't be worrying about how and when we can be together. For as long as I can remember I've had this image in my mind of the perfect woman for me. I had given up hope that she existed. But she does, and we finally found each other. Problem is, she’s not a US citizen and the US government doesn’t recognize our relationship. And to be with the love of my life, I may be forced to leave my family and a good job I’ve held for 21 years. This is a choice no American should be forced to make. Only because we are a lesbian couple, am I looking at the possibility of being literally pushed out of my own country. This is the reality of America in 2011 for a lesbian binational couple. A heterosexual American in my position would simply complete a fiancée visa petition and the immigration process that is in place to keep loving couples together would work its magic.
CJ writes: T and I felt like soul mates from the start. We just clicked. I think I realized about a month or so into our friendship that I was falling in love with her. Early last spring, we had planned for me to go over to the US in November for a month. But by May, November seemed so far away that we brought it forward to August. I spent a little over four weeks in NC and during that time I knew I was in love and never wanted to leave her. But I had to. On some nights, while she slept, I would lay awake crying knowing that the visit would have to end. Being there, with her, felt so right, so perfect. The parting at the airport is the most unbearable heartache; it feels like someone is standing on you crushing your chest. I blame the American legislators who passed the law that so cruelly suppresses our freedom to love. DOMA defends no one’s marriage. It is, however, crushing us.
I returned for a visit to North Carolina for three weeks over Christmas and New Year and T will be back in the UK in April for two weeks. The travel is exhausting and expensive, but that is the price we pay. We refuse to be kept apart because of discriminatory laws.
I was planning on waiting until April to see her, but in February I was injured in a cycling accident and had to take time off work. I was hurting, and I just needed to be with my girl; so I flew out to North Carolina for a week and a half. Everything was fine except the interrogation by the immigration officer that I had to endure because I'd only just left the US seven weeks earlier. It was so demoralizing. I wanted to scream at her, “I'm in pain. I just want to be with my partner. Is that too much to ask?” but I couldn't. Why do we have to feel like criminals just because we are binational couples? The U.S. government punishes its own law-abiding, hard working gay and lesbian citizens for having fallen in love with someone from another country. The government is actively undermining our attempt to build a future together. It is a clear case of the government saying who its citizens can and cannot love. It is inhumane.
T is the most loving, caring, kind hearted, generous person I have ever met. She makes me feel invincible. If I'm stressed, angry or upset, just talking to her calms me down and puts me back in my happy place. This relationship should not have to be lived, as it is, primarily over Skype. I get stressed if I have to go a whole work day, for whatever reason, without hearing her voice. I miss her so, so much. We should be able to wake up together and help each other start the day, which in turn would make us more productive members of the workforce. I want to be there in the evening of the day for each other, to moan about the crap life throws at us, and to enjoy the good times. I want to be supportive in the build up to job interviews and celebrate promotions and to be together at such times when extended family needs us. It hurts to know that many couples take having a beer on the deck in the yard on a Friday night or arguing about what to watch on TV for granted. We do not even have those luxuries. To be separated by law is a crime, pure and simple.
T could move here to the UK, because my country recognizes same-sex partners/spouses, and I could sponsor her without any problems. However; unlike me, she has an elderly mother and very close family ties. How could I ask her to leave? That is not an option. We may relocate to Canada, which has become a haven for stateless binational lesbian and gay couples; at least Canada would be closer to NC, so she could visit her family on a regular basis. But forcing her to become a refugee would be another loss to the US. She's a highly skilled IT worker. How many skilled workers does the US want to lose? As for me, I have a Masters degree; I am self employed and have no criminal record.
I know our relationship is a new one compared to many others who have suffered this injustice for years and even decades. I hope President Obama’s refusal to defend DOMA and his administration’s determination that it is unconstitutional marks the dawn of a new era and that soon all loving couples can be together.
I am certain there is only one woman with whom I want to spend the rest of my life; she is 4,000 miles away in one of the most powerful, but frustrating, democracies in the world. Don't let it become the most backward looking. Please, help us by joining the effort to repeal DOMA and working to pass the Uniting American Families Act as the best temporary solution in the meantime.