Karin and I are in Las Vegas, invited to attend President Obama’s speech! We are excited and hope to connect with people who are working on our issue to reunite families and solve immigration problems – all of them! I am up in the middle of the night in the hotel room. So I wanted to share ahead of time – and will share after today’s event too.
On September 7, 2012, we had our “marriage interview” – the process by which United States Customs and Immigration Services determines if an American is joining together with a spouse fraudulently so the non-American can get a green card. In our case, that’s laughable! Our marriage is not recognized by federal law. We are legal strangers. And my January 27, 2012 application for a green card for my legally-married but federally-unrecognized wife is not something we did as a scam – who would try something like that?
So now, a year later, we are still waiting to hear the results of our September 7 marriage interview. We have been “under further review” since then. That means several things. My application was not denied. But it wasn’t granted yet either – thanks to DOMA, Defense of Marriage Act. It means we can’t leave the country together because Karin is in process. If she left, she is not guaranteed re-entry and we can’t risk a 10-year ban for her.
We have worked so hard to get this situation corrected for all of us. We have had wonderful help from so many – elected representatives, media folks, faith groups, LGBT and immigration activists and others. And we can’t forget family and friends! So many of us are working to keep ourselves connected and in the same place as the ones we want to be with. It breaks our hearts to see spouses separated, children separated from parents and people in love not being able to create unions or families. It has to stop!
So today we go to a high school gymnasium for a speech from President Obama, who is in our corner now. We will hear him say he agrees with us, that same-sex binational families should be included in comprehensive immigration reform. I almost can’t believe I am sharing this, but I have read it in media I trust and have come to believe it will happen. And we will be there! You will be there in our hearts!
Our hard-working lawyer, Lavi Soloway, would love to be here with us, but he got that flu that has been going around. Would love to have him here to share this, and need to remind you and all those at the event today and in the media of a few things:
This is an important message we hope to hear from President Obama. It can help shape public opinion, which is good, and can help federal legislators expand their work to make comprehensive immigration reform, CIR, include us. It’s not comprehensive reform if it leaves out same-sex binational families.
This does not remove our urgency to have our green card applications put in abeyance – we need your help President Obama. Please exert your pressure to make sure that those of us who have defied the law and pushed the envelope will have our applications held until the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA or Congress provides us a legislative solution. Please don’t have our applications denied and our spouses sent away!
All of us have made sacrifices and are still spending lots of money and time and anguish trying to cobble together lives more joined than apart. It’s hard! I have had to choose between my country and my wife, my country and my career, my country and my family.
No American should have to make those choices! Please help us!
Groups and individuals who work on this issue: Immigration Equality, Out4Immigration, Love Exiles Foundation, The DOMA Project, DeVote Campaign, GetEqual, American Foundation for Equal Rights, Human Rights Campaign and more know that we need to focus on the prize – and getting the prize is more than speeches and photo ops. It’s about keeping our focus on full equality and getting our stories out there. We are married couples. We have families. We seek nothing more than the right to be treated just like ALL OTHER COUPLES.
For Karin and I, every day we see the difference. On one side of our house is a family of four. The husband/father is American, born in America. The wife/mother is now American, but born in Taiwan. The twin boys are American, born in America. They had no issues becoming a legal American family.
On the other side of our house, the family of four is Russian, a second marriage with the husband/father and wife/mother and two sons (one from each previous marriage) born in Russia. They are a legal family. Neither of those families understands our dilemma, yet they see us disappear for months at a time when Karin has to leave the country to meet visa requirements. Those immigrants became Americans – that’s what we want!
We are grateful for the work of those in Congress who have lead the way on this issue – Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Jerrold Nadler with UAFA, Uniting American Families Act; Representative Mike Honda with RFA, Reuniting Families Act; Senator Dianne Feinstein with Respect for Marriage Act; and for Representative Luis Gutierrez’s work to make immigration reform comprehensive by including us too. Thanks to all of you and those who have signed onto their bills.
I’ll check in later after the event is over…you can count on that!
Immigration Equality, Out4Immigration and Love Exiles Foundation are the three groups working on our issue – and the three groups who receive whatever money comes in from sales of my book, Torn Apart: United by Love, Divided by Law, Findhorn Press, 2011.
My newer project, with David W. Ross, whose new film “I Do: The Movie” will be out in June 2012, is a portrait project of LGBT binational families, United by Love, Divided by Law Portrait Project. It expands the reach of my book and will keep adding portraits as we find couples and funds to add more. We will hold events to assist the work being done for our families by Lavi Soloway and Stop the Deportations – The DOMA Project. Check out the site at
and see the Facebook page at
To follow Torn Apart: United by Love, Divided by Law, go to its Facebook page at:
Read an excerpt of my book at this link: http://bit.ly/eIyGxh
Order online from the publisher at this link:
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote the foreword to my book. She is an ally in our fight and has suffered from the immigration situation herself as part of a binational relationship. Though she and her boyfriend were able to marry, they know what the drill was and they advocate for LGBT binational families. We like that!
Remember, too, you can follow me and what I am doing and thinking and reading on twitter @tornapartbook