Jackie and Gloria: Married Lesbian Couple in Massachusetts Fights Deportation to Pakistan That Would Tear Them Apart
Gloria and I met at college three years ago when we were assigned as roommates. She was an international student from Pakistan and I was born and raised in Massachusetts. Despite our cultural differences we had an instant connection since the first day. For the first few months we explored Boston together and our friendship grew stronger and deeper until we became inseparable. Some of our friends even called us “the conjoined twins” because we were rarely seen apart. We began to realize that our relationship was different than the friendship of our fellow roommates at the college. We were falling deeply in love.
As summer approached, I worried about not seeing Gloria till the fall. Then she dropped a bombshell on me, “I might not be coming back to school.” I was in shock. I was very upset. I asked Gloria why was she going to move and where was she going to go. She explained that she was having some financial problems and that she was going to go live with her parents who had moved from Pakistan to Texas. Gloria was on a foreign student visa, and a move to Texas meant that she either had to change schools or leave the United States. After we talked, we went for a walk on the beach that was near our campus and talked about how much we would miss each other. We could not imagine waking up and not seeing each other’s face first thing in the morning. Late that night, both of us pretty sleepless, Gloria proposed a solution. “Let’s suppose I ask my parents if it would be okay if you moved in with me to their house, would you move?” In an instant, without any hesitation, I answered “Yes, of course.” I had never been to Texas before but all of a sudden it did not matter, all that mattered at that time was to be with each other.
I didn’t know what to expect living with Gloria’s parents; I just wanted to be with Gloria. Whatever compromises we had to make to be together were well worth that goal. In August 2009 I moved to Texas and lived with Gloria and her parents. Over the course of the next year we realized that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Gloria’s parents were kind to me, but we played a kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” game in order not to offend their sensibilities. It was not the greatest arrangement but we were together for that year and managed to keep Gloria in legal status while we figured out how to stay together.
We wanted to have our own home and eventually get married. Since we could not get married in Texas, we decided to move back to Massachusetts and make a home of our own together. By then we were sharing everything including our finances. Our lives were fully integrated.
We married in Massachusetts on October 23, 2011. It was the happiest day of my life.
We recently received a letter from Gloria’s school that her student visa status will soon expire if she does not again enroll in class. At this point we cannot afford Gloria’s international student tuition fees which are almost two times more expensive than in-state tuition. With the expiration of Gloria’s student status we know that she is deportable to Pakistan. Even though she is a law-abiding person, and despite the love and commitment that we share, there is no way for me to sponsor her.
As an American I find it very unfair that my spouse could be taken away from me just on the basis of our gender and sexual orientation. If Gloria had fallen in love with an American man and married, there would be no problem with the immigration. As a married couple they would be protected, and allowed to build a future together.
When I was a young girl I was taught that laws of my country are there to protect us and to make sure we are all treated equally. I do not see how the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is protecting anyone. Instead, I feel that DOMA is a way for my government to punish me for falling in love with a Pakistani woman.
As a citizen of United States of America I am witnessing a tremendous, harrowing injustice being done to my family. Gloria and I are ready to join the fight for full equality and end this injustice. We cannot imagine standing by silently. There is no way we can live in Pakistan. An lesbian Pakistani woman is already at great risk, but a lesbian binational couple? Half of which consists of an American lesbian? It is ridiculous. Every freedom we take for granted in this country is implicated here. We have no other country where we can go, nor should I as an American even be thinking about exile. Our lives are here.
We cannot allow the random fact of our differing citizenships and our same gender be a reason for the American government to destroy what is most precious to us, our love for each other. We hope those reading this will help join this campaign to end this humanitarian crisis. We may be young, but we have great hope and optimism for the future. We know that we will not achieve full equality without fighting for it, and so we ask you to join with us and demand that the Obama administration protect all lesbian and gay binational couples, ensure that none of us are torn apart or forced into exile.