A Same-Sex Bi-National Couple's View of President Obama's Speech on Comprehensive Immigration
How DOMA Affects Our Lives
Author of Torn Apart- United by Love Divided by Law , Judy Rickard, and her wife Karin Bogliolo met President Obama yesterday when he gave his speech on Comprehensive Immigration in Las Vegas.
As Rickard herself explains: “Getting an invitation from the White House to attend the speech was amazing – and I am glad that we decided to go after I originally declined because of cost. My constant reality is that we don’t have as much money as we used to, because of DOMA. In 2009 I faced the choice of staying in America without my wife, who was told to leave “for a long time” or having to spend six months of the year outside America and taking early retirement.
“For me, there was no choice. I chose Karin and our life together. But it means that I don’t have my optimum pension – and never will. And Karin, who does not live in the UK full-time anymore, cannot apply for and receive as much pension benefits as she could. So money is something we have to think about. And to do our activism about immigration reform we spend money to go places and speak or represent our cause.
“But then family and friends helped us out and urged us to be there for the historic speech which would include – in the room and on the world’s airwaves – the words we so long to hear – immigration reform in America will include same-sex bi-national families and LGBT folks with the various issues they face about being together, becoming citizens, being able to start families, being able to get or stay employed, all that.”
Judy and Karin met Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Judy reminded her that same-sex bi-national families need help with immigration. As they clasped hands, she said: “It’s in the President’s proposal.”
After the speech Judy and Karin shook hands with the President and Karin said to him: “Please do not forget us Mr. President.” He asked who she was and Karin explained that she and Judy are a same-sex bi-national couple. His response was: “Don’t worry, you are in the proposal. I’ve got you there.”
Rickard explains: “We are seeing progress, but our victory is not here. Even if the President had said out loud today at this event what is in his proposal, our victory is not here. He is urging Congress to get this fixed and his proposal includes us – let me repeat, his proposal includes us. But we still need to be sure those of us who have applied for green cards will not be denied before the fix comes. We need our cases to be put in abeyance until either Congress acts or the Supreme Court makes its decision that kills DOMA, or perhaps something we can’t imagine will come from the White House to solve our dilemma. That’s not being ungracious or rude – that’s being realistic. We are not safe yet. Our federal government does not treat us equally and careers and families and lives are harmed by the way things are.
“Karin and I have been under further review by USCIS since our marriage interview September 7, 2012. We can’t visit family and friends outside America. Karin would not be allowed back in. We have no guarantee our case won’t be denied. Other cases have been and will be. We have not been put in abeyance – the safe holding pattern that avoids denial while DOMA is being dealt with. So I hope you can see why my feelings are mixed.
“I hope I won’t have to attend another family wedding via Skype. I hope I won’t have to offer comfort for a family member having surgery via Skype or email or telephone. I hope my wife and I can be safely here, federally recognized as married and blessed with a green card for her soon. I hope we can travel in and out of America safely together. We want to be treated like any other American married couple. We want to be able to enjoy our golden years with fewer problems and expenses. I am now getting used to Medicare – turned 65 this month. Karin will be 73 in August. We think it’s time for us to be free from all this immigration hassle…”
There is a great deal of hope for same-sex bi-national couples in America at the moment but the current reality is that they do not receive equality from the federal government.
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