Monday, January 16, 2012
Recently I discovered a Blog titled: Our Simple Lives. In it blogger Mark writes about and details in wonderful photographs his life as half of a gay married couple with four adopted children. I’ve read through all the back entries and have really come to care about this couple and their four children. They met in 1990 and they have been together ever since. Two of their children were adopted at birth, and they recently adopted six year old twins through social services. Mark and his spouse, Fred, were married in California in 2008.
Unfortunately for this couple, Fred is from France and is facing deportation. His last visa expired in September. This means that either this family is separated or the five American citizens in the family have to relocate to another county. Here are Mark’s words as reported on in an article on his blog:
“However, we quickly learned, that despite some advances in French law over the years, we were trapped. We could not stay in the United States (my country) and we could not move to France (Fred’s country). We are unwanted by both. Although we are both the legal parents of four American children, and both the state and federal government recognizes our status as parents, it will not recognize our marriage because of the Defense of Marriage Act. According to the U.S. government, I am the father of our four children, and Fred is the father of the same four children, but we are legal strangers to each other. Our marriage, our nearly 22 years together, all of that amounts to nothing. Fred has no right to stay in the United States beyond the expiration date of his visa. And that day was rapidly approaching. At the same time, while France would recognize our relationship under its less-than-optimal Civil Solidarity Pact (“PACS”), and it may even permit me to reside in France legally as an immigrant on the basis of our relationship (but not our marriage), the French government refuses to recognize the adoption of our children, because under French law same-sex couples are prohibited from adopting children. We are trapped by U.S. law that refuses to see our marriage, and French law that refuses to see our children. We cannot continue to live this way, and we cannot be torn apart. .. so we decided to fight back.”
Although married heterosexuals in the USA have the right to sponsor their spouse for a green card, because of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) signed by Bill Clinton in 1996 they have no rights as a married couple. (DETOUR: What gets me is... I thought democrats supported GLBT rights... what was Bill Clinton doing signing this?? And it was passed by both houses of Congress... what was that all about?)
I have to say that for years I bought the social Christian conservative party line about homosexuality. I detailed my journey of understanding here and unfortunately I have said (or thought) ‘why should gays have special rights’ on many occasions. Now I understand that there are more than 1,138 federal rights that accompany civil marriage, and some additional 300-600 per individual state. That means your run-of-the-mill-marriage-license-carrying heterosexual couple gets access to over 1,400 rights, benefits, and protections. These are special rights that heterosexual couples gain... including the right to petition immigration for their spouse to stay in this country with their family. (And not coincidentally visit their spouse in the hospital as family).
If marriage were just a religious covenant, I could understand that individual churches that read the Bible as prohibiting marriage between same sex partners would be on moral high ground by refusing to perform such marriages. After all, in this country we do have the freedom to practice our religious faith and the Supreme Court recently ruled to give religious institutions the right to hire as they deem fit. Even today ministers have the right to refuse to marry people even if they do have a marriage license. That would not change if same sex couples were given the legal right to marry. It does not compromise anything in the Bible particular because in our country, marriage is a state institution/legal agreement. Marriages must be recognized by the state. Marriage officiants, including ministers, must be recognized and registered with the state and can only perform marriages when the state has issued a marriage license.
Why then are a minority of people, who are in a relationship with one another and even legally recognized by some states, denied basic civil liberties accorded to the majority heterosexual population? Where does the state get the definition of a legal marriage as existing only between one man and one woman? Why should other partnerships be denied the legal rights?
It isn’t fair. It isn’t equal. It isn’t right.
Not only are GLBT people not asking for ‘special rights’, they are just asking for rights that belong to all American citizens.
As a heterosexual evangelical Christian with no family members or even friends who are same sex oriented, I have no personal reason to champion marriage for same sex relationships. I just believe that we as a country need to give the same rights to our LGBTQ friends, neighbors, citizens that we have ourselves. Come-on guys. Let’s start exercising some grace and mercy and love.
WWJD? I think he would love same sex oriented people just as he loves everyone else.
At least our government should not be responsible for tearing families apart. How can a government that lets two men adopt the same children then insist that one of the parents be denied the right to be with those children. Sometimes I just don't understand the logic. This is one of those times.
Here are a few other sites to visit about this family’s situation:
With Frustration! K