Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cruel countdown: America's "gratuitous cruelty" against its homosexual citizens

Bi-national D.C. couple weighs options after residency jeopardized

Story by Will O'Bryan

One way to look at bi-national couples, couples of differing nationalities, is as a booming business. Enter "mail order brides" into nearly any search engine and it will return a bounty of hits from companies offering to facilitate introductions and dialogue -- for a fee. Some even offer helpful immigration advice, such as the Rose Brides site: "[I]f done correctly and with the right patience and necessary evidence, paperwork, and steps, filing for and having your Russian bride enter the United States is relatively simple."

Under different circumstances, such a Web site might even amuse Joe and Steve. But with the clock ticking, and the federal government poised to extinguish their nine-year relationship -- which it legally refuses to acknowledge to any degree, despite their D.C. domestic partnership and Connecticut marriage -- nobody's laughing. Instead, Joe and Steve are scrambling as the hourglass empties and Joe faces expulsion to his native Indonesia, and back into the closet of this majority-Muslim nation.

Steve and Joe
Steve and Joe

"I feel like a third-class citizen," says Steve, who met Joe in Pittsburgh nearly a decade ago, as Joe attended school, eventually earning a doctoral degree in structural engineering. "We don't have the same rights as heterosexual couples. We also don't have the same rights as gay couples who are born in this country."

Both Joe and Steve asked that their last names and other identifying information be omitted from this story, fearful of an overzealous immigration officer picking up on their case. After all, in one reading of the law, Joe has been in non-compliance of his visa since getting laid off from his job recently. To add to their troubles, the lay off comes just a few weeks after they signed the mortgage papers to their new Columbia Heights condo.

"If we were heterosexual, then we could just marry, no questions asked," Joe says with frustration. "Steve could sponsor me as family."

Some might cynically wonder why the two men, aware that U.S. immigration authorities make no allowances whatsoever for same-sex couples, despite marriage being among the simplest ways for heterosexuals -- and their children -- to gain U.S. residency, didn't stop this relationship before it started.

"I didn't choose to fall in love," Joe answers. In other words, the mystique that makes marriage so powerful an institution that it can bypass borders, is the same mystique to which Joe and Steve succumbed. [Steve and Joe's story continued here]


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