--Love knows No Borders--

This is going to be one of the hardest things I've ever written.
I don't mean to scare you by that opening line, but, like everything I've written around this place, it's the truth.

First of all let me explain to those of you who don't know, unlike several other civilized countries, including England, New Zealand, Amsterdam, Australia and others, the United States does NOT recognize same sex marriages.

Now before you say, "What about Vermont?" it doesn't count. While Vermont does indeed have a way for two people of the same sex to join and somewhat legitimize their relationship, when it comes to the Federal Government, that union is meaningless. It simply doesn't exist. Consequently, because the Feds don't recognize it, Immigration laws do not apply to same sex couples. Here's where our troubles begin….

Some background for you: Rodney, the man about whom I care more than anything else on earth, the person whom I want to spend the rest of my life with, the guy whom, if it came down to it, I would willingly give up my life for, is not an American citizen. He is a Malaysian citizen, working here through an intern program, on a visa. That visa is set to expire at the end of February, 2002, at which time he is required to return to Malaysia for 2 years before he can return to the U.S. He wants desperately to become an American citizen, live here, work here, and pay his taxes here, but that process takes forever and involves a mass of paperwork which they have made so complicated, it requires a specialized lawyer to complete correctly. It also takes forever and a day. We will begin this process, but it doesn't solve our more immediate problem.

So…. come next March, two people who love each other very much, who want to be together, to share a life, will be forced to separate. Because of antiquated laws, because of politicians with their heads stuck so far up their collective butts and their political pockets lived with major cash from anti-gay, rightwing christian coffers these two people will be forced to live 10,000 miles apart from each other.

Think about this - If one of us was female, we could marry, the government would recognize our union and the process would begin for Rodney to become a U.S. citizen. Not only begin, but be MUCH simpler on EVERY front to complete and we would, more than likely, not have to spend ANY time apart.

A little reality talk: Yes, there are plenty of ways around this. There is an entire business out there of "scam" marriages. I personally know of someone who paid $4500 to a woman to "marry" him so he could get his papers to work here and become a citizen. He is a gay male, he does NOT love his "wife", he spends only what time is required of them hen their being "inspected" together. She is bought and paid for. The immigration department is not equipped to keep up with and accurately investigate these "scam" marriages. They happen all the time. Occasionally they'll "get one", but far from as many as actually exist. While they have rules and policies in place to try and prevent them, the truth is, they happen ALL the time and there is little if anything most of the time that can be done to prevent them.

Believe me, I've asked a ton of questions of my "married" gay friend, and the process is simpler than you can imagine. Yes, they "inspect" your marriage and stop by to check and see if you're really married and living together, but it takes very little effort to "convince" the inspectors that your marriage is legit. If we wanted to live "outside the law" I could find a woman to marry Rodney tomorrow. "Damn us", that we have chosen to obey the very laws that will ultimately keep us apart. Ironic, isn't it?

On another front, could Rodney simply overstay his visa and work "under the table" here? Absolutely yes, without much problem at all. Again, I know several people who work and live that way. I'm sure you probably do too. They would like nothing more than to become citizens and work legitimately, but are stymied by the cost and complicated paperwork involved. These people are not criminals; they are simply not rich enough or connected enough to get through the maze. Again, why should Rodney have to waste an enormous amount of education and training he has worked so hard for, to wind up working in some menial job for cash "under the table"?

Is it available? Of course! He could find 15 jobs tomorrow and they'd never even ask for a social security card. Again we want to live, one day here as a couple and he wants to be able to work legally in this county. Living "outside" the law just isn't an option for us. Possible? Yes, easily possible, but again, "damn on us" for trying to be law-abiding citizens. He has fought and struggled to put himself through school to become qualified for the business he's in. You can't blame him that he doesn't want to waste all that time, education and money and give up his career. He wouldn't have to, if our union were recognized, if we were able to join our lives together "legally".

This is certainly NOT the time to be publishing "anti-American" tirades, but let's be honest with ourselves, "…. The land of the free"? No we are not. We are NOT free to love whom we choose. We are NOT free to live and build a home with the person we decide. We have been "told" by our government whom we will love and whom we will marry and with whom we can spend our lives, and if that person you choose happens to be someone who is the same sex you are… Our government has decided that you are NOT a legitimate couple (Have you read the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act"?). They decided that your love is NOT valid and, in the case of gay couples from different nations, decided for you that you cannot be together.

There are several organizations working very hard to help couples like us. We even now have a title: We're a "Bi-National" couple. These groups are working daily to try and let people know the difficulties that these outdated immigration laws are creating. They are also working to support bills that are currently in Congress like the "Permanent Partner's Immigration Act" (H.R.690) to try and solve this problem.

At the end of this article, you'll find links to some of their websites, like "Love Knows No Borders" read his story if you want a real "tear-jerker". Some of them contain links to petitions you can sign "electronically". Please, if you can, sign them, or even better, write snail mail to YOUR representatives and let them know how you feel!

Now, let's bring this all around to "us".

3 months left for Rodney and me. What are WE going to do about it? That is both the hardest and the easiest part of all, for me.

I said in the beginning, I would take a bullet for Rodney. It's absolutely true. I know that we have not known each other for that long, but as I've written somewhere around these pages before, unless you've "found the one" you don't know what that feeling is. I have found him, and I won't bore you with that ranting and raving again. You can read about it elsewhere around the site!

We have a couple of choices, none of which are great ones. Come March, I can stay here and Rodney can return to Malaysia to live out his two years until he can come back and begin the process of obtaining a green card and becoming a citizen. We can communicate via the Internet and I may be able to afford to get over to see him, or him to get here for a short vacation-type stay for a week or so, maybe once or twice during those two years. Obviously, this isn't a really great choice. I went through hell on earth for the 23 days in October he was gone from me for his sister's wedding. I do NOT want to imagine what 2 years would be like. If it comes down to it, I will do it. I will wait as long as it takes. Remember the Mel Gibson film, "Forever Young"? THAT'S how I feel about this. …as long as it takes.

Choice number two: I can go with him. This is the one that I am working on as you read this. I can hear you asking, "Are you sure? Are you comfortable with that? Do you know what it's like living in another country? For reasons I won't get into now, I have not written about my trip last summer on this site yet, and will someday soon, but I spend some time in Thailand. It was an incredible month. I have told you before how much I "connect" with the people of Asia. I know that in some former life I must have lived in an Asian country. It's difficult to explain, but I just simply felt "at home" when I was there. No, I did not do he typical tourist thing. I was able to live with a wonderful Thai family and live day to day with them. I did a few of the typical touristy things, but mostly just experienced the daily life of a Thai. Strange as it sounds, it's as if it's where I was always meant to be. I know that Thailand and Malaysia are two very different places, but there are similarities. No, I have never been to Kuala Lumpur (KL) the capital of Malaysia and where Rodney is from, but I have NO doubt that I would be very comfortable there. What would I do for work? Well, my current job isn't going to do me any good, since I would have to be Malaysian to work for the Malaysian police! So that's out. My former career was 20 years in the radio business, on the air and programming and promotions. That's a possibility as there are a few English-speaking radio stations in KL. Those jobs, however, are very few and far between. But it's an avenue I'm pursuing. Will I do ANYTHING to make this happen? YES! Without hesitation. Clean sewers; clean the streets, empty garbage? WHATEVER-IT-TAKES. I have also thought that the American Embassy and Consulate might be another outlet, but again, if you don't "know" someone…. Good luck, employment-wise, getting a foot in the door there!

So, the bottom-line? There is a very good chance that, come March next year, a few short months from now, I will be quitting my job, selling most of what I own, storing what's left until we can return, and moving with Rodney to Malaysia.

Do I want to? Hmmmm, weird question. I really don't mind, in fact, I'm kind of excited about the idea. The adventure of living abroad, learning new things, languages, customs.
KL is a very cosmopolitan city. On the other hand, if we had the choice, my preference would be for BOTH of us to stay here, work, live, love and enjoy life. That apparently isn't possible right now. As you can see, I have some very difficult decisions to make, very soon. I won't end my relationship to stay in the United States. I won't let the U.S. Government break up my family and home, as it's done to literally thousands and thousands of lesbian and gay couples.

Can I ask a favor of you? If you know ANYONE, connected with ANYTHING that might either get me employment in Malaysia, or might know of legal loopholes to allow Rodney to stay, write me and let me know. You can imagine how important it is right now.

None of these choices are the ones we'd want to make. But, until such time as the United States government comes into line with so many other countries around the world, and recognizes that two people, no matter what their gender may be, can love each other so deeply, it seems we are forced to make them.

SO instead of gaining one productive member of society, they may well be losing two. "…Land of the free"?

...Whatever it takes.

Thanks for listening.

Links to important sites:

Partners Task Force for Gay & Lesbian Couples                 Love Knows No Borders               The Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force

Human Rights Campaign-Permanent Partners Immigration Act, H.R. 690                           Check the Progress of H.R. 690!

And most importantly of all......WRITE or EMAIL your reps. Let them know how you feel! You can't believe how important it is!