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  • « Happy Valentine's Day | Main | More than just a pretty face? »

    February 14, 2008

    Happy Valentine's Day, 'love exiles'

    Posted by: Andoni

    Gaykiss It's been a great day so far. I bought my boyfriend a singing card, and he bought me four red roses -- one for each year. We're both very happy and going to our second favorite restaurant for dinner tonight ---- because our first is booked solid until 10pm.

    As a binational couple, we're very fortunate to be together. It could have been a lot different were it not for luck.

    This brings me to think about our less fortunate friends on this Valentine's Day. These are other gay friends who are U.S. citizens and who have fallen in love with someone from another country but were not able to bring their partner to the America. Thanks to our retro laws, these couples have to live in separate countries, only visiting each other several times a year, or if living together, they do so in exile.

    So to our friends Chris and Anderson (at least together after three years, but in exile), Alan and Victor (U.S. and Mexico, four years jetting back and forth), Gus and Philipe (U.S. and Philippines, seven years long distance), and Frank and Gustav (U.S and Russia three years, long distance), I say Happy Valentine's Day and offer hope that this next election will make things better.

    Hopefully, if we get the right combination of Congress and president, we may be able to pass the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) so gay citizens can sponsor their foreign partner just as straight people currently do. Many in the gay community forget about UAFA when thinking about gay issues, when in fact this official U.S. government discrimination affects 38,000 couples according to Census numbers. That also means there are likely to be a lot more since people are shy about telling the census takers everything.

    That's 38,000 U.S. citizens whose lives have been totally screwed because of official government discrimination. Note that this figure of 38,000 citizens whose relationships are practically destroyed by our government is more than three times the total number of gay soldiers whose careers have been destroyed by having been discharged from the military under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," another form of official government discrimination.

    I plan to begin a series of posts talking about how bad the U.S. is on same sex immigration and comparing us to other Western countries. I will use the U.K., once one of the most homophobic countries in the West but which has literally turned around itself in less than 10 years, because that's the one my partner and I are looking at when his visa runs out.

    So Happy Valentine's Day to all, whether you are in a U.S.-U.S. relationship, a bi-national relationship, or no relationship at all.

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    Comments

    1. Martha McDevitt-Pugh on Feb 14, 2008 4:27:12 PM:

      I'm another American who is happy to be with my Australian wife today on Valentine's day. It's very romantic. I brought her 10 red roses, because this is our 10th year together. Next month it will be 8 years in exile for me.

      The 35,000 bi-national same-sex couples who struggle to stay together in the US are only part of the story. US citizens like myself are not even counted in the census. Some have been away for decades.

      We're fortunate enough to have a home in exile where we can stay indefinitely, in a country where same-sex couples have the same rights and protections as straight couples. But we are very far away from our families and homes, and as our parents age, it is tough not to be around. And we really miss seeing our nieces and nephews grow up.

      Someday Americans won't be forced to choose between the one they love and their country.

    1. Kevin on Feb 14, 2008 6:40:15 PM:

      A:

      Great post. Thanks for reminding a lot of us what's important. In your study, you might also look at Ireland, which is far more homophobic historically as a backward, poor Catholic country for centuries that in just the last 10 years or so has absolutely transformed itself in every way. Chalk up another one to globalization and opening markets. In fact, the Irish government has committed to introduce comprehensive same-sex domestic partnership legislation that will include immigration rights this year.

      As a US-Irish dual citizen, you can guess how happy I am with this news. Indeed, once it happens in Ireland, I won't have to choose between "my country" and my love. My other country will make that a thing of the past, and I'm contemplating whether it will also make my predominantly American identity a thing of the past as well.

    1. Brian Miller on Feb 14, 2008 6:55:25 PM:

      Unfortunately, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have announced they are opposed to UAFA, and John McCain has never supported it.

      So unless there's some sort of magical miracle between now and then, a president who supports UAFA isn't in the cards. Yet another reason why none of those three will be receiving my vote in November.

    1. Andoni on Feb 15, 2008 8:42:40 AM:

      Kevin, that's great that you have dual citizenship with Ireland. You may be holding a more powerful hand than you realize, and don't really have to wait for Ireland to pass civil unions.

      As an Irish citizen you are treated as a UK citizen for purposes of UK immigration. It's one of those special deals similar to what Cubans have the minute their foot touches American soil. This means you and your partner can live in the UK with or without getting married or unioned. The UK recognizes MA marriages and a whole slew of unions (VT, NJ, CA, etc), so you can enter and live without a problem should you choose the UK. You can also enter as unmarried partners, but that means proving 2 years living together as if married.

      Another advantage of Irish citizenship is that Ireland is an EU member. Under a treaty called the EEA Treaty, you and your partner can enter and live in any EU country. For the countries that already recognize same sex couples it's easy. If you choose one that doesn't, such as Greece, you may have to sue to test the treaty but you would eventually prevail. I'd go for the UK or Spain, where the pathway has already been paved for you.

      Brian, I think you are too pessimistic re Obama and Clinton. I've been told by connected immigration attorneys that if there is a Democratic president that the US will have same sex immigration within one year. How it is achieved, I don't know, but this is a big issue. And remember, Congress initiates legislation. I can't imagine a Democratic president vetoing a measure that would allow same sex immigration if the Congress puts it on his/her desk.

    1. Kevin on Feb 15, 2008 9:56:00 AM:

      A:

      Thanks for the rundown. I have not hired a lawyer for the European aspect of our possible future journey but I can add that we already have the equivalent of a commonlaw union recognized by both a Brazilian court, the Ministry of Labor, the Federal Police and the Foreign Ministry, as it was the basis for my permanent visa under Brazilian law. The clock started in September 2007. So, does this mean that in September 2009, should I be able to provide documentation of our legal status in Brazil as the equivalent of domestic partners, we can move as a couple to the UK?

    1. Martha McDevitt-Pugh on Feb 16, 2008 9:04:45 AM:

      It varies in different countries. In the Netherlands, if you have an EU passport and declare you're in a relationship with your partner, you can sponsor him for residency. There are minimum income requirements, but these requirements are actually lower for an EU citizen than for a Dutch citizen, because of the EU treaty. And because the Netherlands has made it harder for its own citizens to bring in partners, which is aimed at heterosexuals who want to bring in a bride or groom from Turkey and Morocco.

      In the UK, there are two ways: you provide evidence you've been living together 2 years or you enter into a UK civil partnership. In that case you don't need to be together 2 years to sponsor him. A British citizen's partner would apply for a fiancee visa to be able to travel to the UK for a civil partnership ceremony. Not sure how that would work with for an Irish citizen.

      A good resource is the UK lesbian and gay immigration group
      http://www.uklgig.org.uk/

    1. Andoni on Feb 16, 2008 9:23:45 AM:

      Martha, the website you cite is very informative. And according to that site, "Irish nationals are recognized as settled in the UK for the purposes of immigration law. Accordingly, the unmarried partner of an Irish national should apply as if they were the partner of a British national." (Settled means they are permanent residents.)

      Isn't the UK great?

    1. Kevin on Feb 16, 2008 4:37:14 PM:

      Wow. I thought of myself as a well-informed person, and I had no idea it would be this simple. This is very, very interesting. :-) You guys have brightened our day!

    1. Martha McDevitt-Pugh on Feb 16, 2008 6:26:20 PM:

      Ireland also recognizes same-sex partnerships and marriages from other countries for immigration purposes. If you are able to get "civil partnered" in the UK, it should allow you to immigrate with your partner to Ireland -- even though Ireland doesn't grant civil unions yet to its own citizens.

      ILGA Europe is another excellent resource
      http://www.ilga-europe.org/

    1. plentyoffish.com on Jan 18, 2012 2:15:09 AM:

      Each person has a right for choosing his own sexual preference. Every country and religion should recognize this right. It is a small issue, the state should focus on implementing more constructive things for the people.

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