In October 2010, Shewired kindly published an article about my partner Inger and me, relating the story of our lives as a binational couple separated due to DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act). Inger is American and I am English. We have an 11-year-old daughter who is also American. So -- a year has gone by since that first articla ran, and what has changed?
In reality--for us--nothing! As I sit here writing this, a few hours from now my wife will be waking up on her 44th birthday without me by her side. I know that she’s already struggling with this idea because at 4 a.m. UK time I received a text that read, “Laying here drowning in my tears, I miss you so much, I can’t stand being away from you. You are the only one who will make me whole. Need you!”
Quite honestly I didn’t know how to respond, as any words I have to offer won’t change the fact that I can’t give Inger what she needs for her birthday; me there with her.
Philippa and Inger at the airport.
This year we have spent a total of eight weeks together. Due to financial, work and school commitments we spent nine months apart, longer than we have ever done before. Four separate trips had to be cancelled and the pressure took its toll leading to us both feeling like it would be better for the other one if we ended the relationship. At times we have been suicidal as we cannot see an end to this any time soon, yet neither of us could ever do that to our little girl or each other. In desperation, to save the money for the flights, I stopped eating and became extremely ill. This may sound ridiculous and dramatic but it was the only way I could find to fly my wife and daughter to the UK. When they arrived things were strained, as the nine months apart had changed all of us.
After a while life started to feel natural and right again and then they had to return home. The trip renewed our faith in ‘us,’ yet separation was fuelled with the fear that things would go wrong again.
Just over a month later I travelled to the states so I could be with Inger when she graduated and with our daughter on her first day of middle school. Trips are usually planned around important dates, meaning other important events have to be celebrated apart. We had six normal weeks as a family but then, again, I had to leave. That was on Sept. 2. At this point we don’t know when we will next see each other.
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Our daughter is 11 and I’ve already missed over three years of her life. She calls and tells me she needs me to come home because she feels she and her Mom are safer when I’m around. She says that she understands that none of this is my fault but that doesn’t mean that she has to like how things are. I may not have given birth to her or been a part of her life when she came into the world but she is my girl -- simple as. She chose for me to be her Mum and now I just want to go home and be the proper parent she deserves. It’s what we all desperately need; to be a loving family not separated by seven hours and 5000 miles, living for short and sporadic trips where every hello is only a few weeks away from another goodbye. It seems so unfathomable that all I really need is to give my family stability, yet this goal is so unattainable and has been for over three years. Maybe I am naïve but I don’t see what is so wrong with our lives that we have to be punished in such a cruel way.
America is supposed to be built on the notion of liberty -- the land of the free and the brave, yet it seems reserved for a chosen few. What more do I have to do to prove that my love for my family is genuine and worth something?
What Can You Do To Help?
Call, email or write to The White House and tell them that DOMA needs to be repealed.
Call, email or write to your senators and urge them to sign on in support of the repeal of DOMA.
Go to the Stop the Deportations website and read our stories. They also have a facebook page you can like.
If you would like to contact Inger or myself, SheWired can forward your contact information to us.
If you are in a same-sex bi-national relationship and want to tell your story email Shewired and ask them to pass your information to me, marking the subject box ‘Bi-National’. We are working with Stop The Deportations and need to correlate stories to raise awareness of this situation.
Lastly, thank you for taking the time to read this and for your support we can’t do this on our own. And a massive thank you to Tracy and the Shewired team for giving us a space where we are taken seriously and have a voice.