Nancy & Teri are Separated by DOMA, Unable to Plan Future. “We are just two souls that found each other and fell in love”
My name is Nancy and I have been in a binational relationship now for over six years with my lovely British partner, Teri. We are not college-educated, or famous, or rich. We are just two souls that found each other and fell in love.
I met Teri in April of 2006, a wonderful woman who made my heart skip a beat and took my breath away. A mutual friend asked that I meet Teri in France and we would drive together from the coast. I had been traveling in Europe at the time, and had no idea that I would be meeting the woman who would change my life forever. We immediately clicked, I don’t know how else to explain it. We could talk to one another, be open with one another, care for one another in a way that neither of us had shared with another person. Our love and affection was immediate, mutual, effortless and came so naturally to the two of us. I knew after a very short time that I had met my soul mate, and I proposed to Teri in her living room in the U.K. six weeks after we first met. That was almost six and a half years ago. I never dreamed that a simple act of falling in love with another human being would be turned into a struggle by the laws of my own government.
But our time together has been plagued by worry and fear many times. During our first trip to England while traveling through France, I was detained and questioned for hours by an immigration officer. The officer spoke very flippantly to her supervisor about me and Teri. Our relationship was classified as a “love in.” She did not feel I had enough money, and did not believe I would leave the country. I was denied entry. I was then detained for another five hours by the UK Immigration for the French police. When they had no interest in me, I was released. While I was being detained Teri waited on the docks in the cold night air. We had, at the time, made arrangements to fly to Texas from the U.K, but now I could not enter. Teri had to take a boat trip home to get packed and meet me back France so we could make our way to Paris to fly back to Texas the first of many trips Teri would make to the US over the next six years.
I have been lucky enough to be able to go to England a few times since then, but each time I go to England I am detained and questioned, and Teri has had to endure the same when she comes to the US. We are both anxious at the thought of having to deal with immigration on either side of our trip. Everything depends on the person you end up standing in front of, and their mood. They do not care what pain they may cause and I actually think some of them get a thrill from this power.
We have known pretty much every year that between us we can save just enough for a plane ticket for Teri to come to the U.S. for a single visit. During one of the times she was questioned by the border officials, Teri was told that she has to stay out of the country for nine months before returning, or they would consider her to be living here part-time and that is not allowed.
Nonetheless, rules are rules and laws are laws, and we abide by them regardless of whether we think they are right or wrong. Unfortunately, doing things the right way does not make things easier, only harder. But even though at times we feel like we are fighting a losing battle, I cannot give up on my love for her. We will not silently suffer under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) any longer, and want to share our story, our life, and our love so that this ridiculous and hurtful law will change.
All of our family and friends want nothing more than to see us married and sharing life together, particularly Teri’s ninety-year-old Nan. Her wish is to see us married before she passes. At this time her health is failing, and our hope is to get married before she is gone. However, we are not getting any closer to this happening. I do not live in a state where it is legal to marry, and our finances have made it difficult to marry. In October of 2010, I was laid off from my steady job. I got another job in May of 2011, with the potential to finally make the money we would need to achieve our dreams of a marriage and future together. Sadly, that job was short-lived. I have been out of work since September, 2011. Suffering in this economy has made Teri’s and my regular visits even more difficult to arrange, not to mention our plans for marriage. Most days, I am alone in my home looking for work, kept company by my rescued, four-legged, furry son Austin (our pet cat).
Most nights I cannot sleep well because I miss Teri. I cry a lot out of anger and frustration because I am unable to do more than I have already done. I am not getting any younger. I face daily health issues, but I go on every day and keep fighting because I know Teri loves me and we share the same wants and dreams of being legally married and sharing a life together. We just hope it is before we are too old to be able to enjoy any of it.
Staying in contact when the love of your life is separated by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is difficult. We text each other many times each day. At first we exchanged daily phone calls, but now we video call twice a day for hours. When we are together in person, our life is right and extremely happy, but that time is always so limited. As the last few days of her current visit creep up, I feel as if my world grows dark and my tears fall uncontrollably. Teri feels she is abandoning me, and I feel I am forcing her to go. But Teri and I are caught between DOMA and immigration laws. Teri has a number of reasons she must be able to travel back and forth between the U.S. & U.K.: an ailing grandmother, a twin sister, and her mother who is battling cancer. Should anything happen to any of these people, people I consider part of my family too, I do not want her to have to make the choice between being with me or being with her family. This is what a law like DOMA does; it denies families the right to be together.
I have worked hard all my life, paid my taxes and abide by all the laws I am supposed to. I have very few living blood-relatives, but I fortunately have friends in the U.S. who have been my family for years. Now my family is also in England. I keep fighting in hopes that one day Teri will not have to choose which family members we have to leave behind just to be together. I do not want to have my wife to have to choose me over her family. That is not what love is about. And that is why we are fighting DOMA.