The United States won’t recognize my gay marriage or family, so I guess we have to leave

Guest post by Vera

Vera and her wife, photo by LoveShack Photo.
Many parents are faced with hard choices. I have the usual parenting conundrums about things like day care or which cloth diapers to use, so vaccinations have lately begun to take a backseat.

Right now my partner and I are trying to sell our house because in a year, we’ll have to leave the country. I am 7 months pregnant and the last thing I want to deal with is selling a house, packing and worrying about what will happen a year from now.

Unfortunately, I have no choice. My partner is not American, and I cannot get her a green card even though we got married in DC earlier this year. Most of us know that our marriage is not worth much in this country. Unless my wife gets a green card on her own through her employer, we really have no choice but to say goodbye to our friends and life as I have known it for the past 18 years. (I moved to the USA when I was 14; my partner moved here when she was in her early twenties.)

The good thing is that we are looking to relocate to one of two awesome but very different countries: Finland or Canada. Our decision came down to a few obvious choices: my partner is Finnish and both Canada and Finland recognize gay marriage.

Both countries have excellent health care and educational systems — Finland is the top country in the world for childhood education. All of this is excellent for our baby, but where does it leave me? I sometimes wonder how much am I supposed to sacrifice for the sake of my child.

I’ll adapt, but it’s scary to think that I would have to learn a very difficult foreign language in Finland, and would not be able to work for at least a few years as the job market is very unwelcoming to foreigners.

In Canada, we may have an easier time getting jobs and we know the language, but we know absolutely no one there, and won’t have anyone to rely on or reach out to during a moment of need. This wouldn’t bother me so much if it was just the two of us, but moving with a baby changes everything.

Although I am excited at the prospect of moving to a country that finally recognizes our union and our little family, I often find myself longing to stay in the U.S. Maybe it would be the easiest choice for me, but not for my partner. She refuses to bring up our child in a country that treats us as second-class citizens, and I admit that I am beginning to share her point of view.

The fact that I have not been able to help her stay in the country permanently is increasingly frustrating, especially now that we are having a baby. As if drawing up wills and power of attorneys were not enough, I long for the day where our union will be just like any other marriage, questions won’t be asked, and we will not have to worry about bringing along the baby’s birth certificate and other documents every time one of us has to take him to the doctor, to school, or on a trip.

Now that we are having a baby, we see that the things that most parents take for granted do not come easily to us. But I am hopeful that in the future things in America will change for the best, and perhaps who knows? We may even think about coming back!

Comments on The United States won’t recognize my gay marriage or family, so I guess we have to leave

  1. Just wanted to add my voice to the Canadians welcoming you. I’m so sorry that the discrimination in your country, but you sound just like the sort of person we like here in Canada. If you come to Victoria, British Columbia, look me up. I’d be happy to show you around.

  2. Regardless of country, race, sex, and gender, the privilege of marriage and everything that comes along with it should be bottom line rights for EVERYONE.

    Its inconceivable to me that things like these are being allowed to happen and that our friends are facing this ridiculous—but very real—option. The word “unfair” falls terribly short for them—its indignant. Scenarios like these should be seen as human rights tragedies vs. being limited to gay right issues.

    Its time for the US—and many other countries—to grown up!

  3. I don’t understand the problem. You are civilly married so the issue is not that the U.S. doesn’t call same-sex unions “marriage”, the issue is that the INS is poorly run and virtually impossible to deal with. With a civil legal union you have all the same “rights” as anyone else.

  4. I thought the INS was the government? Thus, if the INS is saying it does not recognize their marriage, how is that not a problem and illegal (unless there is a loop)? I don’t know immigration laws through and through, but as a government organization, don’t they have to follow the law in this case? Don’t straight couples receive greencards via marriage? It would be interesting to hear why they denied greencard in this case.

    • The “loophole” would be DOMA – the Defense of Marriage Act. It allows the federal government to ignore any same-sex marriage, despite them being legal in several states.

  5. Canada is lovely, I’m sure, but Massachusetts and other states do recognize same-sex marriage and even though INS is federal, I would bet the people you would actually be dealing with in getting a green-card would be much more reasonable in such a place.

    having moved, with two young children, far far away from anyone we knew (due to jobs) I know it isn’t a picnic. there is no doubt that whatever you decide, you will soon meet people through work, through child-related activities, etc. that will be nice people who will become just as close as the people you know now. when you move, definitely connect with other OBMs!!

  6. Sadly, until the federal government recognises same sex marriages, state laws have no effect on immigration, which is a federal issue.

    I have friend in the UK whose partner is American, her partner was able to move to the UK but if the wanted to move to the US it would be much more difficult.

    As another commenter said, if you haven’t already considered other EU countries, you may want to. The UK and Ireland, for example, recognise same-sex marriage and your partner has the right to live and work in both with an EU passport.

    I wish you both the best and send my love and to your family!

  7. As others have said, an EU passport can make things easier. As you are Brazilian, Portugal may be an option. SS Marriage is fully legal there (I saw a wedding planning shop in Porto with a display of a rainbow wedding cake next to two tuxes!), and the cities are fairly accepting. It is still a much more conservative place than Canada, though. And I admit to being a little uncomfortable with gender relations there. But as a general rule, the people are friendly and love children, the weather is very nice on the coast, and the landscape is beautiful.

  8. I know I’m just echoing other sentiments here, but I wanted both of you to know there are so many of us behind you, as I believe it was Casey who mentioned, we will continue to fight for your rights and others like you even after you’ve gone. That said, my new husband and I have embarked on our own immigration journey, and though we do not face the same challenges as you do, Canada is our backup plan…which I’m 100% fine with. I hear nothing but wonderful things from the people who live there and who have visited. Everyone I’ve met has been so open-minded and welcoming, I do not feel you’ll have any problems fitting in and developing a nice network of reliable people should anything major arise. Good luck!

  9. I understand completely- my girlfriend and I are also seriously contemplating leaving the US so we can get married. It is horrible that this country will not recognize loving relationships regardless of gender, to the point that people do leave for that reason. This shouldn’t happen to any of us.

  10. If you come to Montreal you three are more than welcome to hang out with our little family! While not perfect (what place is?) we have a thriving and supportive gay community here. Wishing you the best of luck and happiness wherever you end up.

  11. This made me cry 🙁 Its so upsetting to see people treated this way. Goodluck in life and congratulations on your child, I know he or she will be worth it 🙂

  12. You’re getting so much support from Canada! As someone who was only able to a parent by moving FROM Canada TO the U.S. (economic migration, yo), I can tell you that leaving your homeland is very hard, but it gets easier over time. And Canada really is wonderful, a lot like the U.S. but with universal health care, better education, and less guns (I may be biased as I am in Texas!).

    Not being able to vote for two decades really bites — especially if, like me, you have opinions on political stuff, like adults’ right to marry each other. That’s still taking some getting used to. 🙁

  13. This is heartbreaking. I have often thought about leaving because I am scared to raise a child in a place where anyone is treated in such a fashion…

    Wishing you all the best on your journey. Please please update us!! would love to know where you settle and how it all turns out.

    You will be in all our thoughts!!

  14. Hello Offbeat Mamas! The time has come for us to make the big move! We obtained Canadian permanent residency and are now both looking for jobs. If there are any Offbeat Mamas in the Toronto area, and you are willing to shell out some advice on where to live, daycare, life in general, please drop me a note ([email protected]).
    Thank you all for the supportive comments 😉

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