I was required to visit America under the ‘Visa Waiver Program’ for no more than 90 days at a time, under the guise that I was simply entering for a vacation. This made a stressful and expensive relationship. While I was forced to quit my job in Britain to spend time in the States, I could not work, drive, own a cell phone or even a bank account in America – all the things most people take for granted. My partner was powerless to do anything to help.
Fortunately Britain is more equality-minded and I was able to sponsor my American partner after we could prove that we’d been together two years. This was extremely difficult, as the American way of life does not facilitate gay relationships to even help with the paper work.
By the end of 2005 Britain will drop the two-year waiting-period on gay relationships, and civil partnerships will be an option for bi-national gay couples to remain together.
America is severely lagging behind the rest of the western world. While Canada, Netherlands and Spain forge ahead with gay marriages, many other countries have civil partnerships and are opening up their laws to allow for equal rights for gay partners.
Meanwhile when visiting America for a two-week vacation last week, I was refused entry in Atlanta. I was searched, detained, fingerprinted, photographed, had my passport marked, and returned on the next flight back to the United Kingdom at a personal cost to me of $5,000.00.
After all the stress and financial burden we have been through with travel expenses and only one of us working, it seems that Homeland Security simply didn’t believe that we had actually managed to stay together legally as a couple for over three years. Therefore they cancelled my vacation under suspicion I was working in America.
The experience was extremely distressing. To add to this, two US Federal Marshals visited my American partner the following day. He was taped and interviewed and forced to provide his banking and employment information. Since then his mobile phone displays “ALERT” when he places a telephone call. The next day he received a letter from the IRS advising that his tax records are being audited for the previous ten years. What a coincidence!
The American government has singled out gay couples for mistreatment. We have been careful to abide by every law and hurdle placed in front of us and we are still being treated as criminals.
We have now decided to pay off my partner’s house in America and sell it for a tidy profit. My partner has wiped out his fairly substantial retirement investments and transferred the money into Britain where he’s happy to invest it.
The American government has lost my partner’s college education knowledge, personal business and future tax dollars. It has completely missed out on all the benefits I could have provided a community.
In the meantime, Homeland Security runs a green-card lottery for the world, including Islamic countries and the Middle East – and Osama Bin Laden is on the loose four years after 9/11.
My partner and I are happily settled in the UK. Our country treats us as a real family. We hold hands in the street and we speak to government departments on each other’s behalf. My partner has free healthcare and we have merged bank accounts, bills, rent, tax, etc. Most importantly we are together safe and happy.
We are not the only American bi-national couple that is suffering at the hands of the current laws in the United States. While America likes to send out a happy message that it is a beacon of freedom, the reality is that this message is old and rusty. American law is actually full of persecution and hate. Other countries in the world truly honor freedom for their people. America needs to update and amend its laws to match its rhetoric and stop treating its own citizens like prisoners in their country.
My partner is American, and loves his country. He misses his family and friends there. It’s time that Americans stop hating each other’s lifestyles and start treating their fellow citizens with true equality. I believe this needs to start at the top, where we pray for equal governmental laws for gay and straight people alike. Maybe then love and equality will eventually filter down to ordinary people on the street.
- Anonymous UK citizen in London, England
Information posted at: http://loveexiles.org/UK_US_story.htm