I am an American by birth. I fell in love with a Canadian in 2000. For four years, she would have to cross the border to get a visa to work in the US. And every year, we stressed about whether or not her paperwork would be in order, if the border would turn her away because she’s gay or for any other reason. When we were thinking about buying a home and starting a family, we knew we couldn’t do that in our current situation.
What if, one day, she wasn’t allowed back into the US and we had a mortgage and a baby? What would we do? Unfortunately, I couldn’t sponsor her for citizenship in my country of origin, because our relationship wasn’t recognized by the government. Lucky for us, my partner was a citizen of a country that did recognize our relationship: Canada. We started the process and in less than a year, I was a permanent resident of Canada and we could live without fear of being separated.
I wish we had had the same option in the US; I wish I didn’t have to leave my family, friends, and my country behind. But I am thankful for the option of Canada, of moving to a country that values my relationship with my partner (who is now my wife, as we were legally married in 2004, right after it became legal here). I still feel a pull toward the US, but I also love the protection and freedom I feel here in Canada to be open about who I am and who I love.
We now own our home and have an 8 month old daughter, who will grow up in a country where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are treated equally under the law.
Hello, I am writing to you live from Dublin, Ireland. I had originally joined the Give A Damn Campaign because I was very emotional at learning about the young men who were bullied into taking their own lives because they were gay. I then saw your section on Immigration and knew that I had to write as it is an issue I am living as we speak.
I am an American who had the greatest fortune in the world to meet and fall in love with a man from Ireland. Paul very much wanted to come and join me in the United States and we did everything we could by the book to have him join me. From hiring the best immigration lawyer in the state of Connecticut and enlisting the help of a local senator, Paul and I weeded through yards of red tape only to be told no, it was not possible for him to move here.
So with that being said, I decided to give up my home, my career, my friends, and my family to move to Ireland. Happily, two years ago we were legally joined in a civil partnership. I love my country dearly, but was sad to leave it because immigration equality is not recognized.
I hope one day to return to the USA with my husband…
I have been with my partner for 4 years now. I am an American and she is from South America.
Recently, she applied for a tourist VISA and was denied. Our hearts fell. I wanted so much to share my country with her. Unfortunately, my country had other plans.
We have been trying to maintain our relationship through email, texts, expensive long distance phone calls, and limited webcam sessions. Every six months we try to take a trip and meet halfway in a country where a VISA is not required.
The worst part is saying goodbye every time at the airport. We cry so much because we never know when we will be able to see one another again. It hurts more and more each time.
Why are heterosexual people allowed to marry their immigrant partners and get instant citizenship? I truly hope that the law passes soon or I imagine the only thing left for us will be for me to go live in her country.
I give a damn because I feel the pain keenly. Our support is with this bill.
I was young, careless and not looking for love. This is the exact reason why it was so beautiful that I met my partner. I met him at an amusement park of all places.
We started out slow, cherished the little things and were thankful for what we had. We grew closer, moved in together and even gathered the strength to tell our families we were gay. I am a US Citizen, he is from El Salvador.
Every night I would sit by the door with our dog (a Husky named Jack) and wait for him to get home. Until one night when he never showed up. Two days later he called me from the immigration detention center. Three months later, I was buying a plane ticket to El Salvador.
I sold everything I worked so hard to have, lost my job…and my dignity. I was not going to lose my partner. I got on a plane and landed in El Salvador an hour before he became deported. Never been to El Salvador before. Thankfully I speak fluent Spanish. We lived in a shed for a few weeks. We were then torn apart as I went back to the USA to work. I worked 80 hours a week for 3 months, sleeping alone every night — never more miserable.
I got back, we had built a house with my hard-earned money. We live alright, water is only available some days and not safe to drink. Work is impossible to find. It’s dangerous…but we have each other. When I wake up every morning its with him. I can say the same for when I go to bed.
We are just as committed as any other couple, gay or straight. Maybe more. I haven’t seen too many people make this commitment to drop their life and move for their loved one. I’d do it all again. If immigration laws don’t change, he may never get to move back to the USA. He has a 10 year ban, it’s a few years in. Without the ability to sponsor him, it doesn’t matter ban or no ban — we are stuck in El Salvador.
I now help people in similar situations make the move to El Salvador. I have one of the largest and possibly the only online resource for expats in El Salvador in English.
I miss my family, feeling safe, my job and the USA in general. I have just as much right to live there as anyone else, I have always been a tax-paying, law-abiding citizen. I also have the right to have my loved one there — what does it matter if that is a man or women?
Apparently it matters enough to destroy our entire life in the United States. So yes, We Give A Damn.
I am a California resident that has been in a committed relationship for almost four years. My fiance lives in Brazil and has tried to get a U.S. visa more than five times. We have tried for a student, tourist, as well as a fiance visa. Every time that we apply, she is turned down.
She was given a DD-214 letter when she attempted the student and tourist visas. When we applied for the fiance visa we were denied because marriage in the U.S. is defined as between a man and a woman.
It has been a LONG journey attempting to maintain our long distance relationship since 2005, but we are VERY committed to one another. It is our hope that the U.S. law will change and allow us the right to marry.
I am dependent on staying here in order to make ends meet financially. With the current economic crisis, I have not been able to travel to Brazil as I had been earlier in our relationship when I was fortunate enough to afford to do so several times per year.
If our laws do not change soon, the destiny of my relationship is unknown. It is my hope and prayer that this change occur sooner rather than later. We have been forced to live separate lives in two different countries, unable to share in each others day to day life issues. I look forward to change not now… but RIGHT NOW!
My father is a very conservative, church going, man in his mid 50’s. He’s always been against the fight to give homosexual people the same freedoms that heterosexual people enjoy.
I showed him the stories and videos on this site. He had no idea you could be fired from your job for being gay. He thought civil unions were the same thing as marriage. He didn’t know couples raising kids together can have those kids taken away. He hadn’t thought about couples where one is from another country at all.
Reading though the stories on this site, watching the videos, he has changed his stance completely. He still thinks being gay is wrong, but has decided gay marriage should definitely be legal.
This is a huge step for someone I thought would be entirely too stuck in his ways to change. A little knowledge, with an open mind, can turn even those who wouldn’t normally support something completely around.
Hey, I wanted to share my story just to let young gay people out there know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. If you think other gay, transgender, or bisexual people are the only ones that care about your rights I want you to know that they aren’t the only ones.
I live in California where I watched straight people fighting hard against Prop 8 (which over turned gay marriage in this state). My husband is in the NAVY, and him and many others serving (who are straight) GIVE A DAMN. They want you young people to some day be able to openly join and have benefits for your partners in the military just like the ones they have.
I have faith in the lawyers who want to take their gay marriage case all the way to the Supreme Court.
I have faith in the 14th Amendment that gives you all equal rights.
I have faith in Obama making sure “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will be a thing of the past.
But most of all I have faith in young people who are moving beyond the bigotry of the past, gay and straight, and everything in-between, you are this nation’s shining hope for tolerance, acceptance, and equality.
I had a straight young man come up to me last year when I was discussing Prop 8 in a mall with some friends.
He was just this random young man, he was with his girlfriend who didn’t seem too interested in the subject, but he got very passionate. He told me about family he has in the Middle East who could be jailed for standing up and speaking their minds, and he told me seeing how badly their lives were affected by their inability to speak up it made him grateful for his right to speak up in THIS country, and he intended to use that right to help people like the couples who were hurt by Prop 8.
This young straight male showing such depth really gives me hope for future of our country.
You hold in there young people and fight the good fight, because there are people out there who don’t even know you (who aren’t even affected by the inequality you have to deal with) that are ROOTING FOR YOU, and they are fighting WITH YOU.
I have been with my partner for almost 4 years. We got married in California on November 1st, 2008. It was the best day of my life because I was able to join my life with the person I love and because for once I thought we were having the equality every other person gets in this country.
A couple of days after we got married we heard the unfortunate news, gay marriages were being banned from California. I thought that was so horrible because we all deserve to have the same rights as “heterosexual” couples do. With my marriage I am not able to help my spouse become legal in this country because a marriage has to be between a man and a woman to be recognized by immigration.
Now that people are committing hate crimes against Hispanics and with the new law passed in Arizona we are scared that will happen where we live and if it did I would have to move to Mexico where my partner is from. I disagree with that because why do I have to leave my country just because people are not open minded about the differences we all have.
So, I would like people to stand up for LOVE, not judging if you’re a man with man or woman with woman, because everyone deserve to love whom ever they want without being judged!
In order to be with the person I love, I have to live abroad.
I am an American citizen and I married a German woman, but I do not have the right to sponsor my own (in this country) legally recognized spouse for immigration to my home country. Luckily there are countries in this world that do recognize our love and allow us to stay together. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be leading the happy life I am now in Germany with my partner of over 10 years. If she hadn’t been a citizen of one of the handful of compassionate countries, then I would have had a much sadder story to tell you here. We are among the lucky ones. But many are not so lucky.
Isn’t the USA supposed to be a leader in issues like human rights? Shouldn’t it be among the compassionate countries that allow loving couples to stay together? Shouldn’t every American citizen have the right to bring their own spouse home (legally!) if they chose to?
Thanks for reading my story and for giving a damn! And thanks to Cyndi!
Now the discussion about immigration reform has been started. Everybody talks about the obvious: illegal immigration. I do believe it is and probably should be the most central topic of immigration reform, but let me tell my story and give you an additional thought on the immigration overhaul.
I first came to the United States in 1999 as part of a three-week student exchange program with my high school. As soon as we landed in Newark, I fell in love with this country. So I returned in the summer of 2000, this time to participate in a one-year exchange program in Montana. That year was probably the best year of my life and I transformed my English skills from a C to fluent. I returned to Germany, finished high school, completed my 10-month compulsory civil service and came back to the U.S. in 2005 to pursue a degree in Film and Television. In December of 2008, I graduated summa cum laude from the University of North Texas. Fortunately, there is a program that allowed me to hold a work permit related to my field of studies for one year as an extension of my student visa. I moved to Portland, Oregon and started working in film production. Since this field often times consists of freelance work (especially outside of New York and Los Angeles), I was unable to find a sponsor who would be able to employ me permanently and sponsor a work visa. Nevertheless, I worked hard for almost 12 months straight moving from one movie project to the next. After my work permit expired, I went home… and was miserable. And here is why:
After having lived in the United States for almost 5 years straight (plus the other months I spent here on vacation and exchanges), I identify myself more as an American than as a German. I think in English, I speak English 99% of the time, I understand the value of the US dollar better than the Euro, I run distances in miles and not kilometers, I know what 70 degree Fahrenheit feels like. I have an Oregon driver’s license, a Social Security number, and an American boyfriend, which makes us a bi-national same-sex couple. We have been in a committed relationship for two years and actually moved together from Texas to Oregon. We live together, have a joint bank account and are insured together through a domestic partnership policy. Unfortunately, this means nothing in the eyes of the federal immigration law.
Besides receiving one speeding ticket (in Kansas of all places), I have never been charged with a crime, nor do I plan on carrying out illegal activities in the future. This also means that there is no way that I can stay here with my partner and my amazing friends in a city I love more than any other place in the world. Yes, I could get “married” to a girl to receive permanent residency, but in the eyes of the law, this is an illegal activity and, thus, not an option for me.
Never in my life have I been so frustrated and scared. In Germany, my chances are very slim to find a job in my field. The German professional field is very structured and many companies don’t even have a true understanding of the education I received in the United States. After having been in Germany for two months at the beginning of 2010 and being unable to find a job, I returned to Oregon as a tourist (which limits me to stay for 90 days with no ability to work). After the first week, I already had two job offers, but had to turn them down (again, it would have been illegal if I had accepted them).
The scariest part is that I cannot be open about my relationship to many people. If I try to enter the U.S. as a tourist the next time and I would tell an immigration agent during the regular interview process that I came to see my boyfriend, I could be denied entry to the country because it constitutes a reason to believe that I would remain in the United States unlawfully.
I want to be with the people I love, but due to discriminating immigration policies, I am unable to do so.
So this is my story and there are many others like this out there. I hope this country will change eventually and let me be the good citizen I already am. That’s why I give a damn and so should you!
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According to The San Francisco Chronicle: "Citing the Defense of Marriage Act, the Obama administration denied immigration benefits ...Author: Admin
Join our friends at Immigration Equality urge President Obama to stop separating loving bi-national gay couples by signing their ...Author: Admin
Because our country’s immigration system does not allow gay Americans to sponsor their partners for U.S. residency, many couples are forced to split or consider drastic life changes, such as an international move.