Jackie (US) and Gloria (Pakistan)

Posted on September 13, 2012. Filed under: Stories - from other sites | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Like many young newlyweds, Gloria and Jackie*, both 24, enjoy spending a lot of time together. They eat breakfast together every morning before Jackie goes to work at one of her three jobs. They text each other throughout the day and steal away together when Jackie is free between jobs. On days off Gloria and Jackie do the grocery shopping and the laundry together, or head to the beach in their North Shore community.

“We complete each other’s sentences; often we’re thinking the same thing at the same time. We’re just really soul mates,” says Gloria. “And it’s just hard to keep us apart.”

Despite their strong and loving bond – not to mention their marriage – there is one thing that could certainly keep them apart: the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Gloria is a Pakistani national and because DOMA prevents federal recognition of their marriage, Jackie is unable to sponsor Gloria for U.S. citizenship, as other Americans can do for their foreign-born spouses.

Gloria came to the U.S. on a student visa to attend college in Massachusetts.  She and Jackie met there and fell in love. Assigned as roommates, there was an instant connection on the day they moved into their dorm room, back in 2008.

“We stayed up all night, and we just started talking about our relationships, and our families, and all these things,” recalls Jackie, a Massachusetts native. “We’re kind of private people so for us to just start talking right away, it was crazy. We had a lot of things in common even though we were from two different countries.”

Among Gloria and Jackie’s common interests was the desire to be involved with their college community; both were members of the Student Government Association. They also share an interest in helping others, which led them as students to participate in a mission trip to Trinidad. Gloria helped refurbish a church in a poverty-stricken community and Jackie worked with people with HIV/AIDS, who are outcasts in Trinidad.

They became inseparable. When Gloria confessed to Jackie that she was leaving school after their freshman year because of financial problems, Jackie agreed to move with her to Texas, where Gloria’s parents had moved from Pakistan. Over the course of living with Gloria’s parents for a year, the couple realized they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.

Gloria and Jackie also realized that they eventually wanted to get married – which they could not do in Texas. “We kind of packed up a car and just headed back up to Massachusetts and started our life from a car pretty much,” says Jackie. “We just keep going because we have just strong love for each other.”

Gloria and Jackie exchanged wedding vows in an intimate ceremony – just the two of them and their officiant – in a picturesque little gazebo on the North Shore on October 23, 2011.
While they try to maintain a normal life and routine, DOMA complicates their domestic life. Because they cannot afford the expensive tuition costs that foreign students must pay to attend school in the States, Gloria’s student visa has expired. She cannot work because she has no green card, hence Jackie’s three jobs—as a hotel concierge, a restaurant server and leading programs for elders at an independent assisted living facility. Despite DOMA, they have applied for Gloria to get a marriage-based green card and are hoping Jackie’s petition for her wife will at least be put on hold, enabling Gloria to stay with Jackie in the United States for the time being.

Their experience led them to become involved with Stop the Deportations, Separations and Exile – The DOMA Project, a campaign to raise awareness of, and bring an end to, DOMA’s discrimination against bi-national same-sex couples. They have been sharing their story with the news media and elsewhere with an eye toward educating people about the negative impact DOMA has on their lives.

They try not to contemplate how life would be were Gloria deported to Pakistan.

“I can’t imagine,” says Gloria. “I was nineteen when I met Jackie so all the adult life that I’ve had has been with Jackie. I don’t even know how I would function without her. I can’t imagine it, but most likely, if I end up going, I would probably face big time discrimination for being Christian and gay and a woman. So I mean, I would probably be harmed there, I feel like. I can definitely not be out there as a lesbian.”

It’s easier imagining how they’d feel if DOMA was struck down in the courts or overturned legislatively.

“It would be a huge relief,” Gloria says. “I think we would have the biggest celebration of our life. We talk about it often and Jackie always says she would cry with happiness. We’d be just really, really happy and relieved and excited for life. I think that would make us go on with our life how everyone does and how we’re supposed to. I think we can have more of a normal 24- or 25-year-old life, which we are not having now.”

*The couple asked that their last names and other identifying information be withheld out of concern for their personal situation and for the safety of Gloria’s extended family in Pakistan.

This story is located at: http://www.glad.org/doma/stories/no-normal-life-for-newlyweds-living-under-domas-threat/

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2 Responses to “Jackie (US) and Gloria (Pakistan)”

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Thanks for sharing this story. I keep thinking that one day I’ll live in a country where every couple has the same rights and protections under the law.

Hi,

We know all too well about the discrimination of DOMA. So well that’s is difficult to even write, or type or say the word DOMA. To be frank, it’s a miracle my spouse and I are even alive and I mean that in a sincere way.

Here’s our story in a simple way:

Married legally in 2003
Lived in Seattle, WA for the majority of our marriage
Forced into Exile in February 2011 by ICE
Screwed over by 3 lawyers in the process, DOMA costing us over $73 000.00
Both worked as Apple IT specialists, one more so in Graphic Design, the other in Sound and Software Training
Lost our Home, our family, our pets and a pretty nice community
Lost our minds in the process of going from country to country trying to get temporary Exile.
Lost our right to legally work and support ourselves, having to resort to every possible measure to try and make a scraping of a living
Drowning in debt because of DOMA
Screwed over by Senators that gave us bad advice and never knew the law well enough
Came back from the verge of suicide because of DOMA
Turned away from the US Embassy in a last resort or ‘plea’ to go back home, even after the Obama/Clinton initiative instructed ICE to provide support for vulnerable LGBT abroad
Utterly exhausting every possible way we knew to try and make ends meet, we resorted to ‘Crowd Funding’ on Indiegogo.com where we offered IT perks in exchange for help.
Family relationships severed
Our relationship hangs on by a string but a very strong one at that (probably a Guinness record by now)

That’s the harsh reality of what DOMA does, a law created blindly in the land of ‘Freedom & Equality’

But we forge ahead and thankfully, the kind, selfless stranger on http://www.indiegogo.com has helped us get by, barely, but we hold on and we wait and wait and try to keep it together.

One of the biggest problems involving peoples understanding of DOMA is ignorance, they forget, that some of us have no country to return to, have no country to be ‘legal’ in, have no right to the basic things people take for granted like healthcare, work, jobs, heating in a home. The assume that we can just easily go to some ‘other’ country and settle there.

Well we can’t. We worked hard for our home and careers in Seattle, and we lost everything trying to fight against DOMA. It sickened us seeing an American man and his new foreign wife get her greencard in the line in front of us at the US Embassy, just like that, it sickened us seeing all the other heterosexual couples get relief because they were straight, it sickened us see just about every other publicly known same-sex couple get ‘relief’ from deportation after we were forced out, just like that.

almost 10 years later…

That’s the reality of DOMA.

But we forge ahead.

Our campaign, which runs monthly is here:

http://www.indiegogo.com/loveisloveislove1 for October
http://www.indiegogo.com/loveisloveislove2 for November
http://www.indiegogo.com/loveisloveislove for December

Spreading the word to the total stranger has helped us the most, if you know of anyone who could use the perks we offer on that site, please tell them about us.

Thank you for listening,

Gavern & Brian


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