Mark Morgan (South Africa) & Jaime Singson (U.S.)

Posted on July 22, 2011. Filed under: Stories - from other sites | Tags: , , , , , , |

Sunday (July 27, 2011) will be bittersweet

By Miranda Leitsinger

Mark Morgan, a 32-year-old South African, has found a way to stay in the country to be with his partner, Jaime Singson, a 34-year-old New Yorker whom he met in 2007: going to school. He is now on his second master’s degree, jokingly noting that the money he spends is akin to some couples who would pay thousands of dollars on a wedding.

The couple is ready to wed but faces a conundrum: Getting hitched would highlight Morgan’s intent to stay in the U.S. after his visa ends in 2013 — even though they would also need such documentation to prove their commitment is legitimate.

Mark Morgan, 32, and his partner, Jaime Singson, 34, would like to wed but are holding off since it could affect Morgan’s ability to
stay in the country after his visa expires. The South African is thrilled for gay couples who can wed in his adopted home of New York, but just wishes he could do the same.

“We’re definitely ready, but we’re not going to take that step, mainly because … that’s even a bigger flag for me to be put on a watch list once my visa expires,” he said. “So that’s something we’re not going to do until DOMA gets repealed or deemed unconstitutional.”

Since it would be difficult for him to get work with a student visa and juggle his studies, the situation puts a financial stress on the relationship. The couple could return to South Africa, where Morgan was a strategic logistics manager and same-sex marriage is legal.

His family tries to “convince me to come back home and not put myself through this here,” Morgan said. But the couple’s life is in New York: “We want to make our home here.”

Morgan and Singson celebrated when New York state lawmakers approved gay marriage on June 24, but Sunday, when the law takes effect, will be bittersweet.

“We are going to be watching with pride and joy all of these couples getting married,” Morgan said. “But at the same time, it’s that yearning for wanting to be in their situation, but knowing we cannot be. We cannot take that step and be that bold and just get married.”

For other couples, the fragility of their legal relationship has them living day to day. Cristina Ojeda‘s wife, Argentinean Monica Alcota, 36, was removed from a bus in New York two years ago by authorities who said she overstayed her visa. She was detained for three months.

Cristina Ojeda, left, and Monica Alcota, right, wed in Connecticut in 2010. Though their marriage is recognized in New York, where they now live, Alcota, an Argentinian, is facing possible deportation. “She was in this horrible, horrible place,” said Ojeda, 25. “I couldn’t touch her, like hug her or anything. Everything was through a glass. She was in jail pretty much.”

It took months for the couple, who live in Queens, to recover from that experience — and from not knowing if Alcota could be taken away again. They got married in Connecticut last year, but they have another court date in December to review Alcota’s deportation case.

“A heterosexual couple, they can choose … where they want to live … but in our case we can’t,” said Ojeda, a social worker. “They’re just basically giving us the option of separating or just leaving the country and leaving everything that I have here, my career, my family.”

This story is located at:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43848013/ns/us_news-life/#

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