very helpful lioness

Why repealing DOMA matters

Tue, 03/26/2013 - 10:00 -- webchick

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.


Submitted by webchick on

Though that would still only kick in months down the road when the adoption's all finalized and Marci and I are both legal parents, and living in Canada again.

Submitted by can't say (not verified) on

I too am stuck in the never never land of immigration and DOMA. Though my state recently made same sex marriage legal, we cannot partake of that good fortune.

And it's not only because DOMA doesn't recognize it. It's because the Federal Govt will actually actively use same sex marriage as a method of INVALIDATING a tourist visa (if you're married, then clearly your 'tourist' visa is deceitful). So be very very careful with Marci's tourist visa. Though since Obama became president, they may have stopped actively pursuing these cases, immigration equality is full of horror stories of those who claim to 'protect the american family' actually pulling them apart and destroying them. For the last nine years I have lived in near constant fear that my life will be ripped apart and I will be forced to choose between my love and my family.

I actually found myself in tears at work this morning reading the coverage of today's SCOTUS proceedings -- for the first time in my life daring to hope I might be able to partake of the american dream and marry the love of my life (they certainly have no moral objections to accepting my gay taxes). I had always just closed myself off from the hope figuring it would never happen in my life time (particularly after watching one especially despicable political debate where a SOLDIER was heckled for being gay).

lets hope we are on the cusp of a new era... it would be far too painful to get this close and lose.

Submitted by Lindsay (not verified) on

I don't know what to say here about DOMA that you haven't already said so concisely and beautifully. I can only offer you hugs. Which I do gladly and with hope. ((hugs))

Submitted by Lindsay (not verified) on

Angie, what if the baby were to be born in Canada?

Submitted by Damien McKenna (not verified) on

Could Marci file for permanent residency of the USA as opposed to citizenship? Or maybe go through the hassle to become a dual US-Canadian citizen (like you did, right?) so that you guys have free movement to either country?

Submitted by chx (not verified) on

It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle (yes, I did pick this intentionally) than to get PR in the USA. If you look at the numbers, there are only 200 000 or so not immigrants who are not employer / family sponsored (and less than that for employer sponsored). That's a *very* small drop in the bucket, Canada with tenth of the population accepts 250K professional workers a year...

I have a similar issue living in Arizona, where Domestic Partnership isn't even legal. Luckily for me, my city (Tucson) has a Domestic Partner registry so I can still get my partner put on my insurance. However, we can't travel even just to Phoenix (2hrs away, same state) and expect to see each other in the hospital after a car accident. Why? Because Phoenix doesn't have to recognize our union. I don't even want to look at what fiery hoops and oxygen-less tunnels I'll have to travel through when the idea of adoption comes up.

Submitted by Ralph (not verified) on

My partner of 34 years (and spouse of 1 year) live in North Carolina, which passed a constitutional amendment last year barring gay marriage. We went to New York last July, though, and got married there. So we're married in 9 states and DC, but not in NC. A NC legislator claimed today that even if SCOTUS struck down DOMA for federal benefits purposes, same sex couples living in NC, even though married elsewhere, would still get no federal benefits, because they live in NC and not the state where they were married. This sounds nuts to me, but I wonder if anyone out there knows something I don't?