Op-Ed: Same-Sex Binational Couples Alone at the Holidays but Hopeful DOMA will be Overturned

Op-Ed: Same-Sex Binational Couples Alone at the Holidays but Hopeful DOMA will be Overturned

I am Philippa. I am British and live in the UK. My wife Inger is an American citizen and lives in the USA with her 12-year-old daughter Evelyn. We are a family separated by DOMA who just want our lives to begin together.

As I sit here writing this I have four days left of a six week visit here in the U.S. I flew over so that we could spend our first Halloween together as requested by our kiddo. We try and plan trips around special occasions, but Halloween has always been one holiday we couldn’t quite manage. Fortunately, we could include Inger’s birthday and Thanksgiving in this trip too, but Christmas will be spent apart. Hopefully technology will work so that we can see each other via webcam, but the 7-hour time difference still makes this a difficult process.

We married legally in Iowa in April of this year, but unfortunately, as our marriage is only recognized in 10 states, federally we are not recognized as a couple for the purpose of immigration. We have more hope now that President Obama has been re-elected, but still, I will be leaving Tuesday not knowing when I will see my family again.

Philippa and Inger 

Since we met in September 2008, our relationship has gone from strength to strength. Yes, we have hit a few bumps in the road but we figure it out somehow and everything just falls into place when we see each other again. This said, I am worried. Many things are happening in our lives that I cannot go into detail about, yet they are serious issues and I feel sick at the thought of leaving my wife on her own to deal with it all. Some of these issues are ongoing and others have just been sprung on us. We know we would have a much better chance of dealing with everything if we were able to do it together. Never underestimate the importance of being able to curl up in the arms of the one person that makes you feel safe. It doesn’t take away the problems that life throws at you but it makes everything seem so much more doable.

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Inger’s daughter chose to accept me as her parent and needs and wants me around. She has grown so much as a person in the last six months and I hate that I am missing out on her childhood. For as much as she has grown, she is still our little girl. I feel privileged that both Evie and Inger have given me this opportunity but I feel like I am letting them down because I have to leave again. We all become so dependant on each other so quickly then have to go back to a life via a phone and a computer. Money we should be saving for normal things like a house, a college fund for Evie, a future…..is spent on flights for a few weeks a year of family life. I know that we are luckier than many bi-national couples as I have supportive and understanding employers who allow me to take extended unpaid leave, for which my family is eternally grateful. It’s a luxury many couples don’t have, yet it shouldn’t be this way.

It is Friday 30th November and  today the United States Supreme Court may take up several same sex marriage cases. The Obama administration in February 2011 decided it could no longer defend section 3 of  DOMA  based on it being unconstitutional. The Golinski v. United States Office of Personnel Management case has been credited largely for aiding this decision. However, the Republican led House has since seen fit to invest $1.5 million of the taxpayer money into defending the act. For Inger and many other Americans this means that their hard-earned wages are being used to defend a law that keeps their families apart which in itself is frustrating and gut wrenching.

So, I guess today is hopeful. Things are changing and I believe at least now the USA has a president that publicly supports our relationships. If Mitt Romney had been elected we would have no hope because he was openly against equality for same sex couples. We need for people to support equal rights and be vocal about this. If the Supreme Court rules DOMA unconstitutional we and at least 36,000 other bi-national couples stand a real chance at having a family life and a future. After reading many articles on the impact that these cases could have if the outcome is positive, a best-case scenario is that DOMA could be gone by summer of next year. For us, that feels like a lifetime away but it means we could start the immigration process and be treated the same as our heterosexual counterparts.

You can’t control who you fall in love with. When you meet the person that finally makes your life make sense you have to hold on as tight as you can because without that person nothing really seems to matter anymore. Love should not be controlled by government.

Here is the first story Philippa wrote about being part of a binational couple that appeared on SheWired in 2010. 

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