I have this friend Inger. We met over 20 years ago when both of us were younger and wilder, we met on the road. By "on the road" I mean that both of us were traveling around, working at Renaissance Festivals for a living. I always liked her, because she struck me as smart, independent, and fun. We didn't get too close back then, mostly because neither one of us got 'too close' with anyone back then.
So fast forward to about a year ago - Inger and I reconnected on Facebook. Just like a lot of people do, we saw each other via a friend's Facebook account and added each other. It didn't take us long to figure out we lived in the same city. It just took us longer to get together to have coffee and get caught up that it should've.
Somewhere between the time we last saw each other (when we had compared notes about a mutual ex who hadn't been 100% candid) and the time we finally sat down in the same room earlier this year - we'd both become mothers. Her beautiful daughter is a touch older than mine - fifth grade instead of second. But they are both only children. But while I was still married to my daughter's husband, Inger was not. She had divorced the father a few years back. But Inger was and is committed to making sure that her Ex and her daughter have a strong relationship - no matter what happened between the adults.
Also, a few years back, Inger had met the love of her life on the Internet.
No, no - bear with me here. The stats on how many marriages start from online relationships now are huge. Match.com declares 1 in 5 relationships now begin onilne. And it's just part of the way things happen now.
So anyhow, Inger met the love of her life online and after awhile, they moved in together. Then, with the consent of Inger's daughter and even the support of her ex-husband, they got married.
And then the U.S. Government told them that despite this, she'd have to go home to the U.K.
Oh, and by she? I didn't mean Inger. Inger's home is from the U.S. It was Inger's wife Philippa that had to 'go home' leaving her family here to try and muddle by without her. To say that this was a big deal to her wife & daughter is an understatement. Whenever I think of it, I see my husband being sent away and get angry. Then I think about it as if I were the one who had to go away wondering if I could come back. That makes me feel helpless. Pretty much like anyone would if their spouse was sent away: angry and helpless. It's not a huge leap to get to where they are.
Who Gets to Say So
If Inger & Philippa had gotten married in & lived in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, or Sweden? There would be no issue. All of those countries acknowledge gay marriage.
But they don't live in one of those places.
They life here in Denver. Which is a choice that revolves entirely around the thing I mentioned before a bit back: Inger has always gone to great lengths to make sure that her daughter has a good, loving, consistent relationship with her Dad.
Sure, Inger & Philippa could just move someplace where they wouldn't be treated poorly. Canada isn't all that far away from here. But they couldn't do that without ripping their daughter's life apart. She could either live with her Mom or her Dad - but not in the same country.
Now, whatever you're thinking in the back of your head about same-sex marriage? Put it back there for a minute. Take a moment to look at legality here with me.
There are 5 states right now in the U.S. where a same-sex marriage is currently performed. Let's say that Inger & Philippa and their daughter and her Dad (and his current wife) all moved to Iowa. In Iowa, they could get married under the auspices of the state - and they could live normally with all of the same rights as heterosexual couples. They could keep the desire to keep Inger's daughter together with her father.
What they couldn't do? Is keep Philippa in the country.
You see, USCIS - the vaunted US Citizenship & Immigration Services is a Federal agency. Which means that even if they were legally married somewhere here, Philippa won't be allowed into the country under the petition of her spouse. Her only option is to live separately from her family - or to be here illegally. Which just isn't how she's built.
Even if they do everything legally? They can't be together. Even if every state in the country suddenly decided that Gay Marriages were okay? USCIS doesn't have to take that into account. They'd still be trying to send her "home" - when the truth is that her home lies wherever Inger and her daughter are..
It makes me so mad.
I get why someone might have a problem with the word "marriage" being co-opted. Heck, I'd even be willing to start calling my marriage a 'civil union' if it would help. I get why someone might belong to a religion that thinks that it's not right that Inger & Philippa be together. I do know that in that case you'd have to choose between these very nice, very much in love, very happy women who make each other's world complete & something your church tells you about them being wicked and evil sinners.
But whe I don't get is the punitive thing.
Keeping them apart? Isn't going to stop the way they feel about each other. I daresay if you'd let them live together here peacefully, they'd concede the whole 'whether that requires marriage or not' just so you would let them be together someplace where their daughter can be near enough to see her Dad every weekend. Except then, if you allowed it for them - you'd come up with a slightly different situation down the road that would essentially be the same thing only with different key players.
Doesn't it just make sense if someone adapts the USCIS rules to allow for Same-Sex Marriage where such a union has taken place under the laws of the country the marriage was performed in, and as long as those spouses opt to live under a state of rule where such a marriage is legally tolerated?
Seriously, my heart breaks every time I realize that overturning DOMA or changing state constitutions or any other matter currently undertaken to gain acceptance of same-sex marriages has little to no application when it comes to my friends Inger & Philippa and their daughter.
When did we turn into the country that is so hard to get into legally that it makes sense that we have an illegal immigration problem now...?
My heart goes out to Inger & Philippa - and the dozens of couples whose stories are just like theirs that have been popping up all over the place lately. It's about time we pointed a little light over here on this aspect of it all.
Just put yourself in their shoes. Then remember that your spouse's shoes are now 4,700 miles away.
Lucretia (aka GeekMommy) Raising a child in a digital world, still a digital girl
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