Separated from his Husband Juan by the U.S.-Mexico Border, Brian Joins DOMA Project Rally at Supreme Court
Our story begins in February 2011 with a trip to Mexico that changed my life. I remember as if it were yesterday. I had planned a trip to Mexico City and I had planned to meet this wonderful guy I met on line at a karaoke bar in Zona Rosa, a gay neighborhood in the capital. I was waiting outside the bar when I heard my name being called. I turned and there he was, the guy I just knew would be special to me. We talked outside for a minute and then walked into the bar. He loves to sing and put his name down for a couple of songs. As he sang, he looked at me and it was as if he was singing directly to me. I had a feeling this guy would somehow always be in my life. We had a wonderful weekend together seeing the sites of the big city. I didn’t want that weekend to end but the day came that I had to leave. We sat at the airport talking, wondering where to go from here. We both had fears of trying to take this somewhere further due to distance and cultural differences not realizing what other obstacles lie ahead. We parted with a “maybe some other time”.
Over the next couple of months we continued to talk, seeing each other occasionally on video chat. Something was forming between us, something real and something unexpected. I had to see him again. I agreed to come back for Gay Pride in June. This was a defining moment of our relationship. He was proud to introduce me to his friends and family. We decided we both wanted to be together despite cultural differences, distance and the discriminatory laws of the U.S. that would deny us the chance to be together.
For more than two years, I have traveled to see Juan once every two months, a costly and frustrating part of our relationship, but very necessary nonetheless. We have discussed the future we would want to have together, the hardships and the frustrations of being a gay bi-national couple. We decided we would endure whatever obstacles would be thrown our way. The relationship advanced even with these obstacles.
On September 19, 2012 Juan and I were married. Juan became my legal husband under Mexican law, in a ceremony performed by a civil judge. I will never forget the judge saying that it had been years since she had seen two people so in love. She said she was honored to be able to perform our marriage. The reception had to come later since traveling to Mexico so often while keeping up with the financial burdens of our respective households left us with limited savings.
On January 19, 2013 we held a big reception to celebrate our marriage. It was beautiful. The venue exquisite, overlooking a historic Catholic church. With our family and friends we celebrated our union and our promises to each other. The celebration included traditions of a Mexican wedding ceremony depicting the strength we will have with our family and friends beside us and the dedication they have to ensure it. The family plays a very important role in the strength of a Mexican marriage.
So here we are, legally married in Mexico yet still our marriage is not recognized by the federal government under U.S. law. This horrible DOMA, which defends no marriage but seeks to destroy ours, keeps us apart, unable to be together, unable to live and enjoy life together in this country, unable to continue on our journey. DOMA is discriminatory and harmful; it doesn’t allow us to be together because I can’t sponsor him as my husband. Juan has little chance of getting a visitor visa anyway, this is true for most Mexican citizens. He will have an even harder time overcoming the presumption of immigration intent that all Mexican applicants for a travel visa face. Thus, it is unlikely that the U.S. Embassy will even issue him a travel visa to visit me here in the U.S. Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, did nothing to help our partners access visitor visas even when they could demonstrate absolutely that they would comply and return home at the conclusion of their visit.
According to DOMA our love is not equal, we are not equal, we are “less than.” I don’t want to leave my country. We have plans, desires, and dreams of our future including living here in the U.S. until my retirement and then perhaps moving to Mexico and enjoy the rest of our lives together. But DOMA forces me to think of exiling myself from my country and my family so that we can be together now. I pray every day that DOMA will be found unconstitutional and we will be allowed to continue our journey. I believe we can bring about that change and that is why I have done everything I can to participate in this incredible, empowering movement for equality.
Our marriage is a traditional marriage. In fact the word “traditional” has no meaning in this context except one: a marriage based on love. Our love is just as precious, and real; and our will to be together, as determined as an other couple. Our marriage is not perfect; no marriage is. We have our differences just as any couple does. But we are strong. I believe our simple troubles are magnified immensely because of DOMA, the financial frustrations of being forced to live apart and constant worries of our future with DOMA in place. Honestly, there is no difficult issue that we face today that doesn’t lead back to DOMA and the discriminatory immigration policies of this country.
These are our feelings and this is our life. Two years have passed. Two years I have traveled to Mexico to be with the man I love at enormous financial cost. For two years we have lived apart, missing birthdays, holidays, and the difficult moments when all one of us needed was a comforting hug from the other. I want to wake up every day next to my husband and fall to sleep at night with him in my arms. I have hope that someday soon this will become reality.
We have sacrificed, yet we have had to say goodbye time and time again. We have suffered financially, emotionally, and mentally. We have cried. We have been angry. Yet, we are still as determined as ever to wake up next to each other every morning. If this isn’t real love then I really don’t know what is. Love is love; it comes in many forms. This is ours and the outcome of our lives and our love will not be undermined by archaic discriminatory laws and those that support them.
Last week, I joined the thousands gathered to rally outside the Supreme Court as the 9 Justices of the Court heard oral arguments for and against Section 3 of DOMA in Edie Windsor’s case for equal treatment under the law. Like Edie, I trust in the principles enshrined in our Constitution. I too believe that justice will prevail.
However, this land of freedom and equality does not yet live up to its promise. With much hope and determination, I am fighting so that some day very soon we will achieve true equality. I am an American through and through, but I am ashamed of how gay and lesbian binational couples are treated under current immigration law and DOMA. We are better than that. It is time for us all to join our family, friends, and community in urging our leaders to hold true to our founding principles. Though today we were outside the Supreme Court, our message was no doubt heard by millions over the news and social media. A message this large cannot be ignored, certainly not by the 9 Justices of the Supreme Court. Please join me in spreading this message around the country. You can do your part by sharing our story or even sharing your own. Together, we will make a difference in the court of public opinion, helping to shape the Supreme Court’s decision, and ultimately our post-DOMA future.