Today, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments against the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA), which dictates at a federal level that the word "marriage" means only a legal union between one man and one woman. The topic of marriage equality is often very contentious to "family values" people.
Well, let me explain a little bit about how this lovely little piece of legislature affects my specific family.
I'm originally from the Minnesota, in the United States. I now live in Canada, with my wife Marci. We've been living together since 1999, have had a domestic partnership since 2001, and have been married married since 2003 (because you can do that here).
As some of you know, we have a baby on the way, who's a blood relative of mine. Since the baby and I are related biologically, if Marci and I lived in the state of Minnesota, this would be a simple matter for the courts, about $500, and we're on our way. And since most of my family is back in Minnesota, I'd love to move back there and raise our child among grandparents, great grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.
Unfortunately, though, we can't move to Minnesota. Because according to U.S. law, Marci is just my "room mate" of 14 years. She gets 6 months, tops, in the U.S. as a visitor (which also means she can't work during that time) until she has to turn around and go back home to Canada.
And so, since the freedom to live where is best for our family is curtailed because of DOMA, this means our cute little $500 matter for the courts becomes an "international adoption" governed by the Hague Convention, involving two governments, three adoption agencies, a gaggle of lawyers, and probably $30,000+ by the time we're done with everything.
And, since the Hague Convention stipulates that adopted children have to be brought back as permanent residents of their home country, we might still get into the situation where Marci has to turn around and go back home to Canada alone, and I need to remain in Minnesota with our newborn child as a single mom, if the Canadian immigration paperwork doesn't come through before Marci's time in the U.S. is up. Yep. Can't think of anything that brings a family together more than forcing them apart. Oh, wait...
And since it's a common question I get asked when I start ranting about this, no. The state of Minnesota legalizing gay marriage wouldn't help at all here. Immigration-related matters are federal in nature. So until marriage equality applies to all families across the United States, our story will continue to be the same story for thousands of other committed, loving couples out there.
So the next time someone tells you they're protecting the sanctity of marriage to preserve family values, please laugh directly in their face for me. And then maybe point them here, so they can understand the impact those couple of little words have on real, actual families.