My friend Judy left the country this week for Canada. Spring in Canada seems to make sense, the land is coming alive, new horizons, the Aurora Borealis is making appearances all over the northern hemisphere and there are still Canadian teams in the hunt for the Cup, eh?
Judy didn't go north for any of those reasons. She had to go to Canada to see the love of her life, Karen, a British citizen. Judy is a US citizen living in San Jose. Karen has all the correct paperwork, the passport, the visa, everything necessary for the visit. Thanks to our antiquated immigration system that doesn't recognize same sex bi-national couples, Judy went to Canada to meet Karen because a British citizen can fly into Canada with virtually no problem and enter the United States with, hopefully no problems
Here again with our old, broken system, they have to find a country which will allow them to live their lives together in peace, not hurting anyone and just wanting to grow old together. If they lived here in the U.S. they would have to pull up stakes every six months and relocate out of the country when Karen's visa ran out. I know lots of people who like living like that but these two would like to have a choice and not be ordered to live like that. Judy has mentioned more than once to me that she does not know where she and Karen will be for Christmas this year.
There is a chance their situation and thousands of other bi-national couples will get some relief. Locally, Congressman Mike Honda, D-San Jose, is co-sponsoring a bill (HR 1024), Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), along with Congressman Luis Gutierrez from Chicago to be included as part of immigration reform this year.
If Karen and Judy were a man and a woman I wouldn't even be writing about this. I mean really, man meets woman from England. Man falls in love with woman. She comes across the pond, loves it here in the Bay area. Has her own business, visas, always obeys the laws about when to stay and when to go. Man says lets get married, they say "I do." She turns out to be a wonderful singer, becomes an overnight sensation. Wait, wrong story.
The reality is they can get married in Canada but once they cross the border they get unmarried immediately. Say they are not in one of those areas that recognize marriage, like say Iowa. If something happens to them in Minnesota, there are no guarantees that they can even see each other if one is hospitalized. Is that right thing to do? Would any person have denied Phyllis the right to visit Del when she was dying?
So here it is, a broken system that doesn't recognize that people change, times have changed, situations have changed and some of us just want to live our lives with the person we love. We don't want to corrupt your children or encourage them to marry their own princess or prince but wouldn't that be swell if they found someone to love and who loved them like a prince and or princess?
Judy and Karen treat each other like princesses because Karen is from England and she knows royalty. But also because they have had to live long periods of time away from each other. Our government told them they had to live apart. So their time together is very precious.
Maybe if all of us treated our time together and our own princes and princesses so preciously then the thought of everyone being equal and all couples having the right to marry wouldn't be so scary after all.