It was over a decade ago now that I met C and R, featured in Devote’s segment with Out4Immigration. They were clients of mine at my first job in San Francisco, where I moved after graduating from college. Their story of struggling to be together legally in the United States as a binational same-sex couple was forever ingrained in my heart and is a huge part of the inspiration behind Devote. Their personal story changed my life.
At the time, the immigration ban against persons with HIV was still in effect. This was the ultimate factor in R’s inability to attain a green card. But imagine this.
A matter of months after R’s original three year visa lapsed, unable to be renewed because of the aforementioned reason, his sister called to inform him that his mother had fallen into a coma and might not survive. Imagine the burden he faced knowing that returning to Germany to be by his mother’s bedside meant risking his ability to return to the U.S. to be with C, his soul mate. For four days, C and R weighed their options, but by the time R decided to board a plane, his mother was already gone.
For anyone who thinks that LGBT equality is about LGBT people alone, think of R’s mother. She passed away without her son by her side because of unjust laws preventing his American born partner from sponsoring him for a green card, a right accorded to all binational couples in opposite sex marriages regardless of how long they’ve known one another.
If there is one thing I learned from coming to know C and R and many more binational couples like them, it is that the conviction and dedication inherent in their love for one another is solid, tested, tried, and true. In an era where couples divorce rather than face relationship struggles far less intense than what these people are facing, how is it possible the United States of America, the land of the free, continues to prevent them from legally being together?