San Francisco Chronicle: Jon and Sergio’s Story
|Sergio and Jon were the first binational couple to join Stop The Deportations. Jon filed a green card petition for Sergio in July 2010 and almost 11 months later they were interviewed USCIS in San Francisco|
No Green Card For My Spouse
Op-Ed published by the San Francisco Chronicle on June 14, 2011
Today my husband, Sergio, and I will report to the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services to be interviewed for the purpose of determining the legitimacy of our marriage in connection with my petition for his “green card” as my spouse. Unfortunately, despite the historic nature of this interview – the first, to our knowledge, to be conducted for a same-sex couple – it will only be a formality, for we stand no chance of having our case approved.
Once the immigration officer determines that our marital relationship is genuine, our case will be tossed out with a perfunctory denial because our marriage cannot be recognized by the federal government.
The interview occurs 15 years and seven months after we met, moved in together and made a permanent commitment to each other, seven years and four months after our first marriage ceremony was conducted at San Francisco’s City Hall, six years and 10 months after that marriage was invalidated by the California Supreme Court, four years and seven months after we decided to settle temporarily for registering as domestic partners, and two years and nine months after being allowed by the state of California to marry yet again.
Unlike many others preceding us, we experience no trepidation about this interview, for Sergio and I are not merely married, we’re super-married. If we keep going at this rate, we will catch up with Zsa Zsa Gabor, only without all the added fuss of having to repeatedly change partners.
Just one thing impedes my right as an American to sponsor my Brazilian spouse for citizenship, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which essentially forces the federal government to discriminate against all legally married lesbian and gay couples in this country. When DOMA was signed into law in 1996, Sergio and I had settled into our first apartment, opened our first joint bank account and were going about the business of establishing a life together. Though Sergio’s legal status was up in the air, we didn’t dwell upon it. Who wants to think about depressing things when there are matters of shared closet space and adopting pets to consider? It would never have occurred to us then that we would one day be legally married and that we would be fighting the federal government for recognition of our marriage so that we could finally resolve Sergio’s immigration status.
A lot has changed over the years. Some people have always objected to the legal recognition of my marriage and, while some still do, I won’t debate it with them because my mind’s pretty well closed on the subject.
I’m from Rhode Island, see, and I stand with the 17th century theologian and founder of the Rhode Island colony, Roger Williams, on this one:
“Enforced uniformity confounds civil and religious liberty and denies the principles of Christianity and civility.”
Nowadays, more people are seeing things Williams’ way than aren’t. Which leads me to wonder: If the purpose of enshrining discrimination in federal law was to defend society’s definition of marriage at a time when only 25 percent of Americans favored marriage equality for same-sex couples, then why, when polls now consistently indicate that the majority of Americans support it, is DOMA still the law of the land?
[See this Op-Ed as published here on the Chronicle‘s website.]
Jon Anthony Carr is a writer, film historian and part-time student at City College of San Francisco. He encourages readers to contact their congressional representatives and ask them to support the Respect for Marriage Act. To learn more, go to stopthedeportations.com or email stopthedeportations [at] gmail.com.