"I Want To Live In America"

A US citizen writes:

In the autumn of 2001, I met my partner in Seattle. He's Australian, and had come to the U.S. to work as a camp counselor. He then moved into the financial sector, and had put down many roots in Seattle by the time I met him. After September 11, the company he worked for was no longer able to sponsor his application for the visa he needed to continue working in the country. Enough time had passed by this point for us to know that our relationship was something worth keeping. This would mean I would be forced to leave my country, and follow him to his. Australian citizens are allowed to bring their partners to the country via something called the "Interdependent Partner Visa."  But we had to prove we'd lived together for one year before I could get it. So, my partner left his great job in Seattle, and proceeded to work for under-the-table money as a dishwasher in Seattle for a year. Once we had fulfilled the residency requirement, we moved to Sydney. A year later, he applied for and was granted a temporary working visa in the States. So we moved back - only to find out a year later that, again, the visa could not be renewed. Back to Sydney we came.

In some ways, we're lucky. Australia is a great place to be, and the extent to which gays form an essential part of the cultural fabric here in Sydney is refreshing. Unfortunately, Australia is not where our hearts are.

Our closest friends are on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, and we don't get to see them often due to the cost of traveling between the two countries.  My partner and I are both 30, and this is the time we need to be thinking about building our careers, buying a house... setting ourselves up in all the many ways young couples do. Australia isn't where we want to do that. We want to live in America. I want to live in my country. And I have no idea if or when I'll be able to do that. People say change comes about slowly - but don't tell that to me: I want a family of my own. We want to adopt kids (and you can't do that in Australia as a gay couple). But until I can bring my partner back to my country with me, we won't be able to start our family. And we don't want to be 50 years old when we start, either. We want to be living the life of all of our newly-thirty-something friends - the jobs, the houses, the strollers... but we're not allowed that because I can't sponsor my partner of six years for residency in the United States.

One of the most painful aspects of all of this is the pain I watch my family go through. We've just come out of a holiday season where my parents had just one of their two children at home. And they're not getting any younger. I want to be with the man I love, in the country I love, with the friends I grew up with, in the company of my family. The U.S. government tells me that is too much to ask for. Seems to me that they can't afford to recognize gay couples on a federal level because it would open a big can of worms - "if we do that, we've officially acknowledged the gay people (and gay couples) exist." Difficult to get done when we're under an administration that has never even uttered the word "gay."  But there is nothing "gay" about wanting to live in your own country, god dammit. There is nothing "gay" about wanting to see your parents into their sunset years. There is nothing "gay" about a committed couple wanting to live in the US, get jobs and pay taxes and contribute to the economy, buy a fixer-upper house in an iffy neighborhood and thereby be a part of urban renewal. Furthermore, for those Republicans out there, allowing immigration rights isn't necessarily the beginning of a slippery slide towards offering marriage rights: In Australia, gay people have been allowed to "import" their partners for years... and gay marriage isn't on the near horizon here.

Bottom line: I'm an American, and I can't live in America. And that really, really sucks.