Lives on hold: Lesbian couple, one of thousands, torn apart by DOMA, immigration policy
By Nic Garcia
Phillipa, a British woman, and her partner, Coloradan Inger Knudson, embrace each other. The two haven't seen each other in nearly eight months.
When Coloradan Inger Knudson committed her life to Philippa, an English woman, atop Lookout Mountain in 2009, the last thing she feared was her family would be ripped apart by the United States government.
Philippa, who asked her last name not to be used out of fear of legal repercussions, packed up her life in the UK and was set to help Knudson raise her daughter in Colorado. But five days before she was to leave the UK in 2009 — information the couple had been given, information they believed would lead them to a permanent fix to their immigration troubles was wrong. After being in the US for 89 days, Philippa returned to the United Kingdom until the couple could find another path to be together.
Today, they communicate by email, Web cam and an Internet phone service. Often times, they spend more time trying to establish a workable connection then actually chatting about their day. And when they finally get a connection, there’s that seven hour time difference. Philippa has usually ended her work day – she has two jobs – and Knudson is eating lunch, studying for her new career as a massage therapist.
“This is our life,” Knudson said.
“People don’t realize, they think it’s the distance,” Phillipa echoes. “But it’s also time. I go through my morning, my day until 3 or 4 in the afternoon sometimes before we talk. We both have dual clocks on our cell phone so we know if it’s too early to call.”
Phillipa is quick to point out their immigration troubles is just a single case of discrimination by the federal government. She pointed out there are more than 1,000 rights tax-paying gay and lesbian couples are denied.
“I don’t understand any of it,” she said. “It’s outright discrimination, immigration or not. I’m (eventually) going to be moving to a country, where, for the last three years I’ve been treated like a criminal.”
What keeps them 5,000 miles apart is the national Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage between a man and a woman at the federal level..."
Knudson said she would move to England if she could. But because her daughter’s father lives in Colorado, she can’t. So, she said, it’s a matter of time before either DOMA is repealed, the UAFA is passed or her daughter is old enough.
“I met somebody I share an emotional bond with, an intellectual bond with,” Knudson said about Philippa. “We laugh, she’s a really good person. I found someone I could believe in. I’ve never felt so valued in a relationship. I’ve never felt so safe in a relationship.”