It's been two months since the world changed for same-sex binational families. The Supreme Court decision on section three of DOMA made a sea change in the lives of thousands of gay and lesbian families who have been torn apart and faced tremendous personal, professional and financial obstacles to keep their relationships together, even if they were living apart because of DOMA.
I've been thinking about things and hearing things and reading things and have been trying to sort out what to say about it. Here's where I'm at these days. This is a thank you, a scolding of sorts and a warning.
I am beyond thrilled to learn the Edie Windsor got her money back -- with interest!
I am ecstatic that the near-daily sharing of green cards granted, cases re-opened, families reunited makes it begin to feel ordinary -- what a problem!
I am tremendously proud of the work done by individuals and groups who challenged the government and kept this issue on the table.
I am also proud of those elected officials who tried their hardest to protect us, who authored historic bills, who worked to include us in legislation, who offered special legislation to keep families together.
I am exhausted, but recovering, from the years of stress and work and separation.
I am thrilled that my wife has been able to visit family and friends in the UK because she got her green card, the third one issued to a same-sex spouse.
I am sad to hear that some are acting out their frustration by being demanding or ungracious, even ungrateful -- as if those of us who did the work could solve their situation immediately.
Same-sex binational families should be celebrating -- and we are. But those who have not started the process to be together legally in America need to examine their situation and be realistic. If you are not married yet, do it. If you have not filed for your non-American spouse yet, do it. If you have other circumstances to solve, do it.
Those of us who took the risk and filed while it was not legal are ahead of you. That's just the function of timing. The USCIS has proved that it is working properly and fairly for us. Couples are having interviews after being denied. Green cards are being issued after cases have been re-opened. The system is working for us just as is does for all applicants. People are having biometrics appointments and working down the list of requirements now that the green light has been turned on for us.
In spite of the excitement and news, I still feel something is missing. I wish there could be more community spirit and appreciation for those who helped us. I wish people would settle down and not be cranky. I wish we could hear more personal stories and feel more connected to those who have shared our pain so we can share our success.
And I know there are still many who need education and assistance.
If you don't know where to turn, contact Immigration Equality, The DOMA Project, Love Exiles Foundation or Out4Immigration, for example. Other groups can help or refer too - like National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) or American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER). Or check with your local LGBT Center if you need help finding resources.
Please don't fall for untrained or unscrupulous immigration attorneys. Don't lose your future by forfeiting your savings to someone who will not or cannot help you get the solution you need. The law is on our side now, but people can still cheat you or not know all they need to know about our particular immigration situation.
And please, don't be only focused on yourself. Let's help the rest of the folks, including LGBT undocumented immigrants who are not married to American citizens, by educating, advocating and donating as you can. Then we can ALL celebrate green cards and immigration solutions together. Groups like American Immigration Council and others are working for comprehensive immigration reform solutions.
We got thrown under the bus by the Senate in its early process. The House hasn't even moved a bill to discussion. There's lots of work to do in immigration reform.
We got our piece of the pie. But remember, it's sweeter to win together.