How DOMA’s Repeal Is Changing Our Life

Submitted as part of a series that Equality Texas is doing on bi-national couples.

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Not a lot of our friends, even our gay friends, truly understood the concept of “legal strangers.” As an Australian in a same-sex relationship with an American, our ability to remain a family always seemed constrained by the USA’s decision not to define our relationship as a valid one. This – in the eyes of the law – kept us as legal strangers. Over the 14+ years of our life together, our families recognized the validity of our relationship, as did our friends. To many, we were married and equally boring as we lived our lives in suburbia. But, if I were prevented from entering the country, there was nothing my husband could do about it – were were strangers to each other in the eyes of the law.

Over the years, we have managed to “survive” the challenges that we have faced for me to remain in the country. It was important to us that we did everything legally. We understood the risks each time I put my life in the hands of the INS/USCIS. This stress and anxiety, and the consequences over the “what if…” were kept hidden from our family and friends. To most of our friends, we just continued to be one of those gay couples that live in Frisco. Little did they know that we had plans in place to move away in a very short period of time if my visa were not renewed.

It is funny as both of us are political in nature, but our marriage was something that we didn’t want to politicize. Our marriage was for us. It was our next step in our commitment to each other. So on March 5, 2013 – on our 14th anniversary – we were married in Vancouver, Canada. Our lives changed, we felt different, we felt renewed. It is a day I’ll remember for a very long time. However, what happened in Canada didn’t change a thing when it came to the United States. Here we were still legal strangers.

When DOMA was overturned, the world changed. My husband and I were no longer strangers. We became equals to other couples (well mostly equal). Our lives had validity (in the eyes of the law), and the fear of not being together dissolved and we felt that we could finally move forward. Our journey has started a new chapter as we have started the process of me becoming a permanent resident based on marriage. I still call Australia home, but the US is where my heart is, and it’s nice that I don’t have to leave.

Why Repealing (Overturning) DOMA matters

Many of my friends may have been seeing some posts lately on my Facebook about the Supreme Court of the United States’ (SCOTUS) pending decision relating to DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). These posts relate to the SCOTUS reviewing a challenge to Section 3 of DOMA which “codifies the non-recognition of same-sex marriages for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors’ benefits, immigration, and the filing of joint tax returns” (Wikipedia).

So why is this important? For two reasons (to me).

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