As many of you are aware, the reason I live in Thailand is because Tawn, my partner of 8+ years, is a Thai national. US immigration laws being what they are, it is increasingly difficult for citizens of other nations to find legal means of residence in the United States.
When I speak with my American friends and acquaintances, even well-educated and liberal ones, I’m amazed at the number of people who don’t realize that, unlike opposite-sex couples, Tawn and I have no immigration rights as a couple.
For example, if Tawn and I were an opposite-sex couple, even an unmarried one, as the US citizen I would be able to apply for an “engagement visa”, which would allow Tawn to move to the US and, provided we were subsequently married within six months, apply for residency and then citizenship.
And, of course, if we were an opposite-sex couple and were married, the path for him to move to the US would be smoothly paved and well-marked.
That, unfortunately, is not the case for us. Even if we were to get legally married in Massachusetts or to have a civil union in Vermont, we would still not have immigration rights, nor any of the 1,200+ other rights afforded opposite-sex married couples by the United States Federal Government.
I say this not to complain – I’m quite happy living in Thailand – but to make all of you aware of these facts. As we head into the election season, I would ask that you evaluate candidates on, among other things, whether or not they support allowing committed, loving same-sex couples to receive the same rights and privileges of opposite-sex couples enjoy, particularly with regards to immigration.
Here is a press release from Love Exiles, a group with which I’m involved that specifically advocates for the rights of same-sex couples in which one of the partners is a US citizen and the other is a foreign national.
Thanks for your support!
Same-sex immigration on Democrats’ agenda
Amsterdam, Sunday, 20 April 2008 – For Immediate Release
With the presidential election looming, Democrats have set their sights on immigration rights for same-sex partners of U.S. citizens.
At their recent Global Convention in Vancouver, Canada, Democrats Abroad adopted a platform that calls on Congress to pass the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). The bill would amend U.S. immigration law and allow a U.S. citizen to sponsor a same-sex foreign partner.
“It hurts to be a second-class citizen,” said Bob Bragar, an American attorney who moved to Amsterdam in 1994 to be with his Dutch partner. “I am effectively deprived of the right to live in my own country. My husband Rik and I can only visit as tourists.”
Bragar chairs the Dutch branch of Democrats Abroad and, in August, will be a delegate for Barack Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.
One of Bragar’s top goals at the Denver convention is to ensure that changing America’s unfair immigration law is a priority for the eventual Democratic candidate.
Recently, both Democratic candidates have spoken out in favor of change.
On April 7, Sen. Hillary Clinton told talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres that she would defend gay rights as president and eliminate disparities for same-sex couples in federal law, including immigration policy.
In an open letter to the LGBT community earlier this year, Sen. Barack Obama declared his support for UAFA and equal immigration rights for same-sex couples. “I have worked to improve the Uniting American Families Act, so we can afford same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married couples in our immigration system,” wrote Obama.
Bragar, who is legally married in the Netherlands, is a board member of Love Exiles, a community of American citizens and their partners forced to live outside the USA due to immigration restrictions.
Love Exiles represents thousands of couples who do not have the freedom to live with their chosen partners because of issues of nationality and sexuality.
Today, only 17 countries provide any possibility for their gay and lesbian citizens to sponsor a foreign partner for immigration.
Contact Love Exiles via Martha McDevitt-Pugh (+31) (0)6 2150 4249
and India is definitely not among those 17 countries. Here there is a law (section 377 of the Indian Penal Code) which states “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine”. The law is seldom enforced though.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_377_of_the_Indian_Penal_Code
Interesting topic… I feel very fortunate that Marco has his green card but the fear came rushing in when he had to renew it last year – while we’ve been living in Mexico! What if, what it???? It’s an issue people take for granted, including myself.
Having been around when this was the big issue for you and Tawn I feel very strongly that we need to keep this in mind when Novembre comes around. Yes these laws and restrictions have real human faces. Love to you both.
hmm, and i thought america has all the benefits for its people. this is a very interesting topic indeed. how about him getting a us citizen wife and have divorce afterwards? i often hear this from people who says that’s the best legal way to get there. weird in ways but a lot are doing that.
well just be patient!! i thought you would settle down in thailand though anyway the problem in malaysia is the people from thailand, vietnam, china and cambodia tend to divorce or leave their husbands once they got the citizenships
@Dezinerdreams – Same as Singapore – in fact, thanks to the Brits, the exact same section of the penal code!
@Renatojr3 – Lots of misperceptions about life in the US, I’m afraid. Citizens do have many benefits, but not all equally. As for getting married there to a fake wife, the cost for that would be in excess of $40,000 and would require 4-5 years of close scrutiny by the immigration service. It shouldn’t be that difficult.
@lcfu – I do intend to settle down here in Thailand for the time being, but that doesn’t diminsh my desire as a citizen to have equal rights.
@stebow – Thanks for your support!
@christao408 – $40k? i can’t even get to the half of it.