Yesterday I was in tears, in the office.
Simon and I met each other in 1999 and started our relationship in 2000. We struggled for a number of years trying to settle down and started to realise that was difficult for bi-national same gendered couples. We spent a few years living in limbo between North America and Europe. We had decided that we would try to find a way to move to the US. We were respecting the immigration laws of the US and realised that it was an uphill battle, but eventually US ICE decided that Simon didn’t belong in the US and denied him entry. Our friends and family were shocked that this could happen. They encouraged us to fight it, but we knew, really knew, that there was nothing we could do, that the Federal government was barred, legally, from recognising us.
In 2005, the UK made the bold step of allowing Civil Partnerships. This presented a unique opportunity for US. I knew my skills were portable enough for me to find work in the UK and the UK had been Simon’s home for most of his life. It wasn’t originally first choice, but it would do. So I started through the motions of immigrating to the UK. I ended up conversing with the entry clearance officer who issued my proposed Civil Partnership visa a few year later (as I become involved in immigration rights in the UK) and he told me that I was the first Civil Partnership visa he had every issued, in the Summer of 2006. He was quite happy to find out that things had worked out for myself and Simon. In November 2006, I moved to London.
About two years ago, Simon and myself realised that we wanted to change our lives. We realised, after many many many years of debate that we wanted a family. We also weren’t in a personal situation which would allow us to raise a family, with my work being in Scotland and Simon’s work being in London, it wasn’t the life we had envisioned for ourselves. So were decided to move. We looked all over the world and settled on Vancouver. In part because we knew the US was simply not an option for us. We started down the process of finding a way to get that accomplished. We accidentally found the best immigration lawyer in Canada, I suspect, named Marina Sedai. But with everyone’s best intentions we realised that we couldn’t get the immigration process in Canada to match our desired timelines.
This last month, as the stark reality that the timelines for Canada immigration weren’t viable, we resigned ourselves to what we called “Plan B” which was to settle down in London for the next 18-24 months while we started the family and then hopefully the Canada process would catch up with us by then.
I had been closely watching the Supreme Court on DOMA and Proposition 8. I followed the arguments with rapt attention. I had always admired the US Supreme Court and while it may not always get things right, it gets far more right then it gets wrong. I knew, that if the US was to ever become a viable option for Simon and myself, DOMA needed to be struck down. I also realised that based on the US Constitution and how the Supreme Court operates, that they would likely strike it down, unless they sidestepped the issue on jurisdictional grounds. In the end, the what I wanted and what I expected merged.
While this won’t be straight forward, and Simon and I never wanted or asked to be trail blazers, we suspect that, as we progress with our family plans, we will find a way to move to the US, now that the US Supreme Court has made it clear, if a State determines we are married, then the Federal government has to respect that determination and extend the same rights and benefits. After 13 years of frustration, I can finally say again that I am proud to be an American.