Engaged! In Maryland, Saman and Kim Fight For a Future Without DOMA, Anticipating Supreme Court Ruling
Our story begins with two journeys converging onto one path.
Kim and I came to the United States of America for different reasons. I came here in 2007 as a refugee from my home country of Iran. Being a gay man in the Middle East was very difficult. Homosexuality is not tolerated by the government. I endured years of loneliness; I never opened up to my family about my sexuality out of the fear of rejection. When I came to this country, I was on my own. My partner, Kim, left the Philippines for America to finish his nursing degree in 2011, reuniting with his family living in the U.S. upon his arrival. For the first few months, his life revolved around school and family. He went to school, then came back home. That was his routine. Looking back at how different our backgrounds were, it seems miraculous that our lives ever crossed paths.
We met each other in March, 2012 through a dating website. I recall sending Kim that first email. I was so anxious to see if he would reply. Fortunately, he responded, and our conversation just took off. We slowly began to get to know each other. We exchanged numbers and found each other on Facebook the same night we met. That was a Monday or a Tuesday. Two days later, I knew that I had to meet Kim in person. We scheduled our first meeting for that Friday, after his last class of the day.
The first time we saw each other face to face was in a parking lot. As cheesy as it might sound, it was love at first sight. We spent the evening discussing our personal hopes and dreams. He told me that he’d left the Philippines just one year before graduation so that he could earn his Bachelor’s degree in nursing and start afresh here in America. We talked for hours, until we finally realized that it was nearly 9:00 p.m. Kim had to return to Baltimore. I gave him a ride back, and we spent the trip holding each other’s hands. I still remember the tingling sensation on my arm. Days after that first meeting, we were both already talking about blossoming into a serious relationship. Neither of us was looking for a short-term fling; we both wanted a long-term commitment. We even discussed the prospect of marriage. Maybe we were moving too fast, but we both felt very sure of what we were feeling. We’ve been inseparable ever since.
For the first two months, we managed to keep our relationship a secret. But we figured that our families had to know about us sooner or later. We decided to reveal our relationship to Kim’s mom. However, she didn’t take it very well. She thought that Kim would abandon his goal of nursing, despite the fact that Kim had proven himself to be a stellar student both in his home country and at his college in Maryland. We were disappointed, but we continued to build our relationship. After all, we knew in our hearts that our love was real, and would only make us stronger, not distract us from long-term goals.
In November 2012, we found ourselves captivated by the elections, particularly the Question 6 Referendum in Maryland. Question 6 was about The Marriage Equality Act. At stake in the referendum was whether gay and lesbian couples would have the right to marry like everyone else. Kim and I eagerly anticipated the results along with our fellow Marylanders. When the referendum succeeded, we were ecstatic to know that we resided in a state that supports marriage equality.
However, one last hurdle remains in our bid to be together, and that is the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Kim and I want to get married after marriage equality passed in Maryland, but we have decided to put it off until our marriage will be recognized on a federal level. That dream will only become a reality if DOMA is struck down. We understand what so many binational LGBT couples here in America are going through. The U.S. Constitution states that everyone is to be treated equally in the eyes of the law, so why is that equality not applicable if you are gay or lesbian? What makes us different from any other human being? We fall in love like everyone else, and we desire to make lifelong commitments with our partners. Kim and I, along with our fellow gay and lesbian binational couples, look forward to a positive ruling on DOMA. We have decided to share our story through The DOMA Project to ensure that 2013 will be the year when all of us are finally treated as equals. We will continue telling our story and sharing it with the world until the federal government must recognize our future marriage. Even now, every story shared makes a difference. Please join us.