January 27, 2011 at 12:33 pm EDT | by Gina Caprio
Still choosing between love and country

I am writing to inform you that America’s unjust immigration laws that prohibit an American citizen from sponsoring their foreign-born, non-U.S. citizen same-sex partner is destroying my family.

U.S. law permits a heterosexual American citizen the right to sponsor their heterosexual foreign-born partner for immigration purposes provided that they have met at least once in person in the past two years, but same-sex bi-national couples are denied such an opportunity.

I am a United States citizen and have been in a same-sex bi-national relationship for the past four years with a British citizen. Our relationship has endured because of our commitment to each other despite the mental and physical hardships and expense that U.S. laws have forced us to endure. I am separated for great lengths of time from the love of my life, from my support system, from the person I intend to spend the rest of my life with. We have spent thousands of dollars, money that was (and is) difficult to raise, in order to spend short periods of time together.

We have been deprived health and happiness while our heterosexual counterparts are permitted such freedoms. One can only imagine the mental anguish that my government has placed on me and that it fails in promoting my welfare as a U.S. citizen.

Over the past three years I have been a volunteer with a grassroots organization called OUT4Immigration. We have been diligently working toward bringing public awareness and congressional support for the potential passage the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), which contains language that would include the ability for an American in a same-sex bi-national relationship to sponsor their partner with all the regulations and penalties that exist in the process that is currently in place for heterosexual couples.

We are a small organization with limited funds and resources and many of our members have already made the difficult decision to leave the United States in order to be with their partner in another country. I, too, am faced with this heart-breaking decision of choosing between love and country but I cannot live my life on hold any longer and I plead for increased support for the passage of UAFA.

It is difficult to write a letter that fully depicts the intense pain that I have endured by being forced to be separated by thousands of miles from the person I love. The discrimination that I face and am forced to live under every day needs to end. Mine is not only one story of a violation of freedom but one that is shared by thousands of Americans. I am well aware of the difficulties we face in passing UAFA but my family deserves to achieve a part of the American dream.

This is not just an issue facing the LGBTQ community but it is a human issue. It is an American issue and I hope you will assist me and my family in raising public awareness of the discrimination faced by same-sex bi-national couples.

  • Thank Goodness there is hope for you! Be grateful! I have been in a relationship for 12 years with a Latvian citizen and our options are non existent. Thank you for telling your story and sharing information so that this issue gets more awareness. You could be in Love with a Ugandan!

  • I am American and my other half is Italian. We have the same problem of trying to exist as a couple. Thanks to SKYPE we survive. However, there are those touchy/feely sensations on a regular basis that are missing from our relationship. We long to be closer. But we have done reasonably well for six years – we each definitely have some alone time! We would certainly see each other more, but we encounter the same problems as others who love each other and cannot legally be same-sex partners because of the laws.

    My other half has purchased a condo and pays taxes. However, he cannot get a permanent dirver’s license – which means he cannot buy a car or purchase insurance. If he wants a car when he visits he has to rent a car and that is more far more expensive than owning. He finally received a six month visa. When he finally received a driver’s license it was only for six months. Buying a car and insurance with a six month license is still impossible. He cannot receive satelite dish service because he does not have a Social Security Card. Technically, one should not have to give a Social Security number to anyone other than one’s employer. The technical complications of living here with a six month visa are enormous! More than one expected!

    One begins to understand why there are illegal immigrants living in the USA when one goes to the national website for applying to the lottery for a Green Card. The English instructions are so complicated and unclear that no one can understand them. I have three degrees and the site makes no sense. Can you imagine how difficult it is to try to accomplish what you want to accomplish when you cannot make heads or tails of what you are supposed to do because the site uses language that 99% of native English speakers cannot understand? The site says that one’s application must be perfect or it will be discarded. The African clerk at my supermarket won the Green Card lottery and when I try to ask him how he did it, he cannot answer the question because he does not understand the question. Because the site is not decipherable, alternate sites for “walking one through the process” abound and most are there only to take one’s money and are of no help at all. My mate lost $2,000 trying to get a Green Card through two sites that were there just to take one’s money… And no one closes them down!!!

    Our own Consulate and Embassy sites in Italy where one applies for a visa is not very different. It’s a humiliating and unhelpful process. IF their publicized phone number works, one is sent to another telephone number that charges by the minute to give out information. No one wants to talk to you unless your pay. There are also the enormous costs for the visa which limit who can apply for one. Then there is a special fee to send the visas by protected mail. It cost a months salary to get a visa for mother and son. That did not include losing a days salary because one had to go to the city of the Consulate to be interviewed. Those were just the costs! That does not include the timed application one has to fill out that’s not written in one’s native language. I tried to fill it out for him as I have typing training and it took four tries to be successful. One has twenty minutes to fill out the application or lose it all and start again. The application says to keep saving – which we did – but the save feature did not work and we lost all the information each time. I have since checked out the US Embassy sites in other countries and they are not any different.

    It makes one understand that the problem with illegal immigrants has everything to do with the process and that we are our own worst enemy. Were I foreign, I would seriously consider being illegal too!

    There is nothing friendly about trying to become a citizen of the USA or the process to get a visa. Once one is here, it does not get any better. I know from experience. My partner sleeps with an American flag tucked in his pillowcase in hopes he can one day be a citizen. All he gets is rebuffed and I become more embarassed that I am an American…

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