For Eight Years, Jason and Oscar Have Fought For Every Day, Separated By DOMA and Denied Visas
Eight years ago, I met Oscar, and the moment we met there was magic in the air. We knew something very special was happening. I had originally booked my visit for 2 weeks, but extended it another two weeks. We spent those weeks getting to know each other in so many ways. We explored many places outside Lima, hiking and playing volley ball on the beach.
One night, 4 days before I was scheduled to leave Peru, Oscar and I decided to explore a local winery in Lurin, a suburb of Lima. We bought a bottle of wine that night, nearby in a local park some sort of celebration was taking place so we decided to check it out. While there we got some food and then walked in the park, we found a nice secluded bench, opened our wine, and enjoyed our food. It had been a semi-overcast evening as the fog rolled in from the ocean, but as we sat on that bench together the clouds rolled away to reveal a gorgeous full moon. Oscar looked at me and said he never wanted to forget that moment; it was the first time he said, “I love you,” to which I replied the same. Even now, writing about this after so many years, I still get goose bumps. It truly was the moment. We knew this was the beginning of of a beautiful relationship.
Needless to say, the goodbye and my subsequent return to the U.S. was very very emotional for us both. Every year after that I would return to Peru, feeling both sad and happy the moment I boarded my flight in LA. I feel happy because I know the happiness waiting for me, but sad because I also know that weeks later we will have to say goodbye again.
We have been unable to get Oscar a visa to even travel to the U.S. He studied at Cordon Bleu in Lima, graduating at the top of his class. He was invited by a student exchange program and the Canyon Ranch in Tuscon, AZ to work in the U.S. They made a great offer. Everything was set, but when he went to the American Embassy in Lima, the consular officer denied his application without even looking at his documents. We suspect this happened because the very first time Oscar applied for a tourist visa in 2005, he was asked where he would be staying and what his relationship was to me since I intended to support him initially. He truthfully told the officer that I was his boyfriend. Hearing laughter in response, Oscar was told, “well, you are not going to see your boyfriend.” And with that, a dream was crushed. But we won’t give up.
Following Oscar’s unsuccessful interview, I traveled to Lima each year. Oscar and I would chat almost daily on the phone and Skype sometimes for hours. Sadly, in 2009, I was diagnosed with cancer. While I was going through treatments, I could not travel. This was especially difficult for Oscar because he wanted so badly to be here with me, to take care of me. We both cried lot. After what seemed like forever, I was told that my cancer was in remission in November, 2011. At last, in 2012, I was finally able to travel and be with the man I love. To this day, it seems hard to comprehend why my government or anyone would want to keep couples like Oscar and me apart, especially when we most need to be with one another.
Oscar and I have already celebrated the union of our love in our hearts and minds a long time ago. Now we want the freedom to express and live that in front of our family and friends in a ceremony the legally unites us as one. Once DOMA is history, we will finally be able to live our dream of sharing our commitment in a publicly recognized marriage.
I have great hopes that in 2013 our long awaited dream of marrying and being together will be fulfilled. We eagerly await the day when we will be able to share and live our lives each day as a couple. I am happy that we have a president who believes in equality for all, including the right to marry the person we love. With all three branches of the government considering the fate of DOMA, we know it’s a matter of time. But, our own experience has shown that we can’t take time for granted. That is why we are sharing our story with you today. We need to make sure that our elected officials and judiciary are well aware of the impact that DOMA has on couples like us. It’s time for DOMA to go. Please share our story far and wide to keep up the pressure for DOMA’s demise.