Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gay Couples And Immigration

Today in the U.S. if a gay U.S. citizen falls in love with a non-citizen they cannot legally sponsor their partner to remain in the U.S. like heterosexual citizens. This is true for many countries and often the couple has no choice but to have one continue to live without documents or forever be separated.

This is the story of Lee a 35, stay-at-home mother, from South Africa
When Lee came to New Jersey at the age of 19 to work as a nanny, she planned to stay just one year. But when the year was up, she didn’t want to go back to her hometown of Durban in apartheid-era South Africa. “My eyes had been opened,” she says. Plus, she was beginning to question her sexuality, at a time when being gay in South Africa could be grounds for arrest. At a party in Manhattan three years later, she met an American girl and fell in love. They now have 2-year-old twin boys (with the help of an anonymous sperm donor). But because Lee and her partner cannot get married, she remains undocumented. “I do not have legal rights to my kids,” she says. Being in the U.S. illegally has meant that she has had to choose between the family she’s made here and the one back in South Africa. “We’ve become really sad,” she says, “at the notion of me not being able to go home and show our beautiful children to my family.”

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