Unwilling to Accept DOMA Separation or Exile, Brad Files a Fiancé Visa Petition Now to be Reunited with Chris
Chris and I met on Facebook a few years ago through a friend suggestion. Even though he was from Uruguay and I was living in Michigan, we shared a lot of common interests, so I sent him a friend request. We started out as friends with a love for gaming, especially XBox, and similar tastes in music. Like far too many Americans, I was unaware of how DOMA affects gay and lesbian Americans with foreign partners. Though I knew that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) existed, I had no clue what impact it would have on us.
Last year, I traveled to see Chris four times. Our first meeting was in early April. I spent the Easter holiday with him and his mother. This was my first international trip and getting my passport was exciting for me. It is a true privilege to have an American passport, allowing one to travel freely to almost anywhere in the world. Sadly, not everyone has that privilege. As an Uruguayan national, Chris needs a visa to come to the United States.
Prior to my first visit, we had Skyped and exchanged several e-mails, pictures, and texts but there is nothing like meeting the love of your life face-to-face. After my eighteen long hours of travel, I was exhausted and sweaty. Being unfamiliar with immigration and customs, it was a process just to get through that line and finally reach the concourse where I saw him for the first time. We rushed to each other and gave each other a big hug. I apologized for being “sweaty” but he had no problem with that. He was a gentleman and took my luggage and then we left the airport to catch a bus. He took my hand and we kissed for the first time. It was spectacular and I knew then this was going to be someone really special in my life.
After my first heartbreaking journey back home, I decided to leave earlier for my visit the following month in May. That visit was as great as the first as we really started to get to know each other and strengthen the foundation of our love. On May 12, I asked Mama Rosa (Christian’s mother) for permission to marry him. After her acceptance, I then asked him to marry me and he accepted.
Wanting to visit me in the United States, Chris applied for a visitor visa in June and was denied. This disheartened and saddened us, but our relationship was strong enough to face that set back. I again went back in September, during my birthday, for another good visit.
My last visit was in December for Christmas and New Year’s. What a difference it is in Uruguay as December is the beginning of their summer! It was 103 degrees on Christmas Eve and even for there, it was hot.
In between all of my visits with Chris, I continue to do research every day on how to get him here. Our three “options” include 1) riding the tide with the Berlin Wall of DOMA staring at us in the face; 2) transferring within my current company to Canada where they would welcome Chris as my family; or 3) living exiled in Uruguay, something that we will not be forced to accept. Due to my limited Spanish, moving to Uruguay would make finding work difficult for me.
DOMA currently destroys bi-national families and rips them apart. Like any heterosexual couple, I should be able to file for a fiancé visa, but I cannot do so because of this law. We have used modern technologies to help keep our relationship strong. Chris and I communicate by Skype on a nightly basis. We also use a great app called Voxer where we can instantly send voice messages, quick pictures, or instant messages. We also still communicate through Facebook and e-mails. However, there are times when we feel like prisoners, trapped on opposite sides of a border, on opposite sides of a screen. We should not have to rely on technology to be together. We deserve equality like any other couple in our situation. We deserve the right to be together. Because I cannot sponsor Chris for a fiancee visa, I am being treated as a second class citizen.
I have been in Uruguay with Chris since last week while the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the cases challenging Proposition 8 and DOMA. I will return to Uruguay to be with Chris again in June when the Supreme Court is expected to rule on these barriers to our happiness. I have great optimism and hope that the nine justices will do the right thing and deliver a strong message to all Americans that gay and lesbian Americans are deserving of equal treatment in our civil institutions.
With the help of The DOMA Project I am now filing for a K-1 fiancé visa for Christian to finally be able to come to the United States where we hope to marry in Illinois, if that becomes possible, or otherwise in New York.
As the The DOMA Project continues to advocate for full equality and securing the post-DOMA future, the Obama administration must be proactive about adapting to what we hope will be a resounding defeat for DOMA at the Supreme Court. By filing our fiancé visa petition now, we are letting my government know that we fully expect our petition to be approved on Day One, post-DOMA. We should not be forced to wait one day longer to be together. In the meantime, we must continue to pressure the Obama administration, acting through the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State, to defer final decisions on such petitions until a Supreme Court ruling on DOMA, and then, once a ruling comes, to expedite processing of all cases involving same-sex binational couples who are exiled, separated or threatened with separation. As we get closer to what I hope and expect will be the end of DOMA, there can be no excuse for denying fiancé visa applications. Like any couple, we simply want the security of being able to build a life together. We are hopeful that DHS Secretary Napolitano and Secretary of State Kerry will do everything in their power to support our aspirations of forming our own family in Michigan. Along with the rest of the binational community we look forward with much anticipation to the day K-1 visas are approved for all our fiancés. Keep telling your stories. Find out more about fiancé visa petitions from The DOMA Project and help us all work together to ensure that we use the next three months to keep up the momentum that will bring us full equality.