Bi-National Families and DOMA

By Gemma Perkins
© 2012 Gemma Perkins and Diversity Rules Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.

I pause to take a look at the silver, three studded diamond ring on my wedding finger and I feel happy. It glistens in the light from the overhead beams that cast down upon me. My wife, Jessica, married me on to of the Rockefeller Centre on September 16th 2011 and it was the most stunning day of our lives. Jessica is stunning, articulate, intelligent and my soul mate and when you know you’ve met your ‘one’ you should grab it with both hands…and we did.

It’s February 20th 2012 and I am flying over Nova Scotia having departed Boston an hour ago. I’m heading to the United Kingdom and this flight was not my choice. I’ve spent three months under the Visa Waiver Program with my beautiful wife and stepdaughter but now, like tens of thousands of other Bi-National couples, my wife, and I are facing time apart because she is not allowed to sponsor me to stay in her native country, The United States of America because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined Marriage as ‘one man, one woman’. This definition is crippling families financially, emotionally, physically and psychologically in a time when we should be working towards Equality. How many times have you heard someone say, “You cannot sponsor your spouse for a Green Card because you’re gay? That’s crazy, it’s the 21st Century!” I’ve lost count on how many times these words have penetrated my eardrums!

Jessica and me, we have grown together in a truly natural and beautiful manner. She is my best friend, my mentor, my ally, my travel buddy, my lover, my dream, my wife and my future. We talk about our finances, we shop for weekly groceries, we look after each other when one is ill, we laugh and we love. We want the best for our kids and most of all, we want to go to bed at night knowing that we don’t have to be torn apart by DOMA. I can summarise my marriage and my feelings towards Jessica by a quote that she read to me two months ago: “You can gauge your love not by the time you spend together but by the fear of being without one another” This holds true for me. Without her, I am lost.

Every Bi-National couple experiences this lethal cocktail of drama. For me, I decided to give up everything to be flexible enough to travel to the USA to be with my wife. I have a Bachelors degree in Criminology and I am a trained Drugs Worker for the British Government yet I struggle to gain a Working Visa in the USA. WHY? I sold ALL of my belongings to raise cash so I was able to spend my life with my true love. These stories are highly familiar to the Bi-National Community. Jessica also gave up her job with AT&T to relocate to a state that recognises her marriage; she sold a large proportion of her belongings to help make ends meet. Erase DOMA from this equation and we would not have had to had gone to extreme lengths to remain side by side. Some of you may be reading this and may say, “Your mistake, you should have thought it through” I say “NO” I’m almost 29 and I have put my life on hold too much in the past. “This time, It’s my turn to take chances because I love her and I’m not giving up”

These words are the tip of the iceberg into the issues and problems we, and almost 40,000 other couples are facing. We are grateful to all of the efforts from LGBT communities for raising awareness, writing to congress and fighting in the courts. I hope that all of us can return to our spouses soon and for the pain to end!

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