Christina & Eve: U.S. Navy Veteran Defies DOMA, Petitions for Green Card to Keep her Family Together
My name is Christina. I’m a veteran, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a wife. My wife’s name is Eve and I worry about our future every day. This is our story.
During the summer of 2006, I was a newly out of the U.S. Navy after nearly 12 years of service. I was also happily single. I was just taking off my sea legs and finding my way in the civilian world when I met Eve on my birthday at a neighborhood bar called The Cubbyhole in New York City. Our first conversation was intriguing and I was immediately drawn to her. I tried my best pickup lines, but they didn’t work. So, I followed her on the subway heading uptown at the end of the night. After asking her to dinner what seemed like a hundred times, she repeated “no” but she suggested we exchange phone numbers. She blew me a kiss and got off the train, disappearing into the night. When I got home that night, I thought, “well that’s that.”
But it wasn’t. Turns out I met my future wife that night.
Eve sent me a random text message a few weeks after we first met and we started seeing each other shortly thereafter. Old-fashioned dates turned into sleepovers and soon I found myself spending every free moment I had with her. We fell in love. It was a love I had never experienced with anyone else.
We moved in together about a year into our relationship and made our house a home. My family warmed up to her quickly and I warmed up to her friends in the U.K. on one of our visits. We integrated our lives together into one big family.
Eve, who came here from the U.K. was busy getting into different projects and building a name for herself in the film industry. She’s a really excellent sound designer by specialty, but also an amazing photographer and cinematographer. She can shoot, edit, and compose beautiful music – basically she can do everything associated with making a film. Eve’s ambition to become an acclaimed filmmaker.
As for me, I went back to college full time in order to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. I ended up returning to my biggest passion – journalism. After my graduation, I went to work as a field producer for the 24-hour news station NY1. I’ve worked in the field ever since.
Now, we also work together on documentaries, combining Eve’s artistry and my skills at storytelling.
When New York state signed same-sex marriage into law in 2011, it was very joyous news for us, but we didn’t get married right away. Eve was concerned that marriage would possibly compromise her immigration status non-immigrant visa holder. I wanted to marry her ever since our first anniversary of being together. I knew she was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, but I also didn’t want to make things difficult for her.
However, this year, after seeking legal guidance, we decided that our love could not wait any longer. On January 10th, 2013 we decided to say I do. That day at the City Clerk’s office in lower Manhattan was one of the happiest days of my life. Just looking into Eve’s beautiful eyes as we exchanged vows was so amazing. This woman that I’ve loved all these years is now my wife.
But the honeymoon was over quickly as we realized that there were more hurdles ahead. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a bill signed into law in the wee hours of the morning on September 21, 1996, prevents the U.S. federal government from granting gay and lesbian married couples over 1,000 federal marriage-based benefits. One of those benefits is the ability to sponsor a foreign spouse for permanent residency.
Now, seven years since we first met, we Eve and I continue to grow as a couple. We both have jobs here in New York City. Like most families, our biggest concern should be raising our X-year-old son, Alexander. We want to provide a stable and happy future for Alexander. However, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) makes that difficult as our continued presence in New York depends on Eve’s ability to maintain her current non-immigrant visa – something that is never certain. This is hardly an adequate solution for a family like ours. That is why we have chosen to fight for a marriage-based green card that offers us a permanent means of living together as a family in the U.S.
DOMA is the only thing standing in the way for lesbian and gay binational couples like Eve and me. Yes, we had a marriage certificate, but basically that’s all we have. Unlike heterosexual binational couples, I cannot successfully sponsor Eve for permanent residency on the basis of our marriage. We will not give up easily. We are prepared to fight DOMA every step of the way.
Earlier last month, Senate Democrats abandoned two amendments that would have included lesbian and gay families in U.S. immigration law. Advocates of the two LGBT provisions acquiesced in order not to risk losing the bigger battle of passing overall immigration reform. They say they are taking historic steps to finally give people a practical legal pathway to citizenship.
That brings little comfort to my wife and me. Eve came here legally in 2005 and has struggled to find a permanent solution ever since. We want to be free to live together as a married couple and build our lives together in America. This seems like a win-win situation and we refuse to believe that anyone would truly wish exile or separation for our family – though this is the message our elected officials sent us when they failed to include us in comprehensive immigration reform. This is why we are sharing our story today. We want everyone to know that if DOMA is not eliminated, tens of thousands of lesbian and gay binational families like ours will be forced to consider long-distance separation or exile as our only remaining options.
I know that our country is moving in the direction of fairness and equality. As a veteran, I celebrated the day that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was finally repealed. Eve and I now look forward to the day in which DOMA will be history too. Until that day comes, we will continue sharing our story and the stories of other couples who have contributed to The DOMA Project. Please join us in the fight for our future by sharing our story today.