Gay U.S. Army Veteran Sacrifies Home and Financial Security, Uprooted and Forced into Exile By DOMA

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Jay and I met in a chat room online back in 2009. For a year we simply chatted every day. Neither of us knew what the other even looked like until late 2009 when we decided to try Skype. From the very first day we chatted, Jay and I just clicked. In spite of the fact that Jay was from the Phillipines, we had a lot of the same dreams, likes, and values. In 2010, I scraped up all the money I could, and I flew for the very first time across the world to visit him. During the 15+ hour flight I was filled with anxiety and joy. I remember walking out of the airport at night, looking for Jay among so many others waiting there in the darkness. I remember spotting him. He was jumping up and down. Needless to say, we were elated! For the very first time, we were able to hold each other’s hand, put our arms around each other, and kiss (in privacy of course!). The two weeks were wonderful and time flew by. Soon, we were faced with saying goodbye.

It hurts me so much to remember that day. I will only say that nobody should have to feel that way. After about 6 months, we planned a second trip. This time we traveled to Jay’s hometown on Panay Island. After those two weeks, we were once again faced with the a painful series of goodbyes. I remember trying to not make a big deal about it. I thought that maybe just a hug and get going would be easier. No, it wasn’t. We embraced each other so very tight. We never wanted to let each other go. Even after we let go, I couldn’t stop turning back to see him. The final goodbye was a hand wave. Jay was on one side of security and I was on the other. I began to lose it; I started to cry intensely, all the while trying to hide myself from view.

When I returned home, Jay and I knew one thing. We couldn’t be apart any longer. Because Jay is from the Phillipines, he must apply for a visitor’s visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy to even visit the U.S. In developing countries like the Phillipines, visitor visa applicants face the burden of proving they do not intend to remain in the U.S. Generally, only the most privileged of Filipinos are able to provide sufficient evidence of ties to their country to get a visitor visa to the U.S. Sadly, Jay is not so fortunate. So, I started to do what I had to do. Within a week, I announced to my family that I was moving to the Philippines to be with Jay. I couldn’t help but explain myself over and over again, as to why I had to go. In the next 3 months, I sold everything I owned. I sold my small house, my car, and nearly all other possessions at yard sales. I also left my government job with the U.S. Army. The hardest part of all was saying goodbye to my family. My adult daughter was distraught with disbelief that I was forced to leave my own country. To this day, she is still overcome by my leaving. My parents, who are both in their late 70s, hugged me goodbye with tears in their eyes and hope in their hearts. Though it was difficult to uproot myself from my country, I was so driven to be with the person I loved with all my heart and soul. There were no doubts, no looking back.

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Michael and Jay’s house in the Phillipines

Since June 2012, Jay and I have lived together in a small concrete house surrounded by farmland. Here in the Phillipines, we have little financial security. Earning just $200 per month is not very assuring if either of us has a serious injury or health complication. I am in my 40s, so my government veteran’s pension is still more than a decade away.

Last December, we had an opportunity to Skype with my family back in the U.S. who were celebrating Christmas. It was so so difficult for me. With exception of my mom, my family was seeing Jay for the very first time. As much as I know that my family loves me, words cannot describe how empty I feel without them. In many ways, it seems as though they are moving on with their lives, busy, as is life in the U.S. Every day, we hope and pray that DOMA will go away. My daughter is getting married in September 2013 to her best friend and life partner. As much as I’ve tried to explain and emphasize why I had to leave and be here with Jay, it is still very difficult for her to deal with the fact that I left. I am not sure there is a better example of how negatively DOMA has affected us. If it weren’t for DOMA, Jay and I could share our lives together surrounded by the love of my family and friends. Fortunately, Jay and I live a few miles from  his mother, sister and brother and we have their love and support. Without them, it would be that much tougher.

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As I sit and write this story, I am torn. I am torn between loving a person so very much and a family that is a world away. Every day I try to be the best partner I can. Some days are not fair to Jay, as I sob with homesickness. Yesterday, Jay told me for the first time, that my unhappiness was showing in my face and spirit. While we cried and held each other’s hands, he said too me that he loves me so much. He doesn’t want to see me hurting anymore. If I could no longer go on here, I would need to return home, and he would have to let me go. I cannot begin to even remotely tell you how sad this has made me. We sobbed endlessly. I never wanted our relationship to come to this. I told Jay that I will would never leave him even if it meant living in an unfamiliar country, so very far from my family.

Emerging from our tears, we have learned not to lose hope. I would never wish our circumstances on anyone. That being said, we have been challenged to grow and love during this time of great insecurity. Our love for each other continues to grow. As a result, we feel empowered to reach out and help others by sharing our story. No American should be forced into these circumstances.

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In my service to this country, I learned the value of looking out for one another. I hope that you’ll do your part by sharing our story or even by sharing your own. In doing so, we continue to build pressure and awareness of the immeasurable harm that DOMA continues to cause to binational gay and lesbian families, harms that must cease the minute DOMA is eliminated. Jay and I and the thousands of other gay and lesbian binational couples deserve no less.

10 comments


  • Thomas

    I am in a simular situation. I met Efren in early 2012 and I visited the Philippines to see him in March 2013. He sitll lives there and I in the USA we video chat every morning and evening. It isn’t the same as holding each other. I remember the same feeling when leaving the Philippines. I almost stood up and walked out of the airport. I miss him so much. It is not fare what my govenrment does to me a taxpaying American citizen.

    May 16, 2013
  • Kev

    Even though we just recently met, I feel like Mike and Jay are long time friends already. I often struggled with the decision whether to choose between love or country and understand the agony that goes on inside.
    I am glad to see you shared your story. You will inspire people that you’ll not even meet. Plus, this is another towards obtaining the dream you both are fighting for.
    I’ll keep fighting for all of us as well! Hugs!

    May 16, 2013
    • Michael

      Thank You so very much Kev for all your encouragement and support.

      May 16, 2013
  • Hi, me and my partner actually have the same story as you do, I’m erick (pinoy) and my partner michael (us). We almost have identical story to tell though we decided to move to bkk. Im from manila and worked in a call center and my partner has its own electrical business in miami. we decided to move to bkk for better living. philippines is way too much catholic for both of us and felt a little hostility escpecially in the city. were also a big supporter of the doma project and submitted our story. love for both of you.

    May 16, 2013
  • Michael Coleman

    This story is almost a mirror of mine. However I am not in the Philippines yet. I just had my second trip and we both know we don’t want to live apart any longer. I am in the process of getting things in order to make my move there. If Michael and Jay read this, I have questions for them.

    May 16, 2013
  • Jerry & Guillermo

    Thanks for share this story.
    It is always not so easy for us to find who I am, to find a pure lover.

    At least, we are lucky, we have our lover finally, it does not how hard it was.

    Love is forever

    May 17, 2013
  • John

    I can relate with this story cause we are in the same situation and we live here in Panay Island in the Philippines too. Its really hard if he needs to leave me, everytime he go back in the US for two or three months. I always have fever and I always want to throw up if I know he is going to leave me again(anxiety). Now he is staying here for six months and go back in the Us for two months then back here again. Hoping for good changes

    July 1, 2013
  • Shyll

    Welcome back to you and all other couples currently in exile.

    August 6, 2013
  • Sam

    I cannot believe this kind of things! I am in tears! For someone who had served their country! Payed tax for equal rights! This is so outrage! Please stay strong everyone! I am so torn by this little ignorant law which results in forcing thousands of LGBT to get exiled from their own country and separated from their family and friends! teared up by this story thinking of how much more time do they need, maybe until someone dies?

    December 21, 2013
  • same as my situation..i love carter very much…

    April 8, 2014

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This is a pro-bono project of the law firm of Masliah & Soloway, PC. Posts on this website are offered for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. The law firm of Masliah & Soloway, PC has offices in New York and Los Angeles. Our practice is limited to U.S. Immigration & Nationality Law.