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Oped

March 2013
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As I got off the phone with my older cousin, I could not help but think of how proud I was of him. He had just came back from India after a two month vacation—only this time he didn’t come back empty handed; he came back with his newly wedded wife who he had been dating for the past five years. He would always tell me how hard it was for them to keep such a long distance relationship going, but he said they made it work and now he is as happy as he could be. Today, the two of them live together in an apartment in Santa Clara, California. He works as a software engineer for Cisco and she is in the process of getting a visa, which he said will take some time but he isn’t too worried about. This process isn’t as easy for everyone though.

 

Brandon Perlberg, who used to practice law in New York, just recently moved to London after trying to get a visa for his domestic partner, Benn Storey. The two are one out of over a thousand gay couples living in New York who was ecstatic about the state legalizing gay marriage. The catch here though, is that Mr. Storey isn’t from America—he is from England. They had been trying to get Mr. Storey a permanent resident visa for over seven years and it wasn’t happening. Americans married to a spouse from a foreign country are able to get their partners resident visas with relative ease. But federal law does not allow Americans to appeal for resident visas for homosexual partners. In the case of Brandon Perlberg, he was left with only two choices—to stay in his country or to move with his partner. Brandon Perlberg chose his partner.

 

This really didn’t make sense to me. No one should have to make that decision. Currently in the state of New York gay marriage is legal, but if they can only marry Americans, then it is it completely legal? If a state is able to legalize gay marriage, then it should legalize it without bounds, the law shouldn’t restrict who homosexuals could marry. If any couple chooses to go against this law, then they would either have to live in the country with his or her spouse as an illegal immigrant, or would have to move to the other country, which is what Brandon Perlberg did. One may pose the counterargument that whether an immigrant is gay or not, he or she is still an immigrant—which shifts the argument from that of gay marriage to immigration laws. And since the country is more worried about protecting our borders and determining what to do with illegal immigrants, the issue on gay immigrants will slip under the cracks. But then why isn’t my cousin worried about getting his wife a resident visa? The issue at hand isn’t immigration—it’s ignorance. Americans must stop looking at homosexual marriage with such a derogative mentality. It should simply be seen as something that is different—something that is diverse. America was built on this idea of diversity. Whatever happened to the “American Dream”? To the idea of the “melting pot” where people of different places, styles, and values came together. These opportunities shouldn’t be lost. Americans must stop being so intolerant and should change their views on gay marriage so people like Brandon Perlberg aren’t left to chose between their country or their spouse.

 

This scenario reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine who is gay. We were talking about how hard it is for gay people to find partners. The way he explained it, normally people like one another and a relationship is developed. He said it wasn’t the same for gay people. “Think about it this way George” he said. “You can open the door right now, go outside and start having a conversation with any girl you thought was cute and the chances are in your favor that she isn’t a lesbian. So you have potential to be in a relationship with her, even if it doesn’t happen, the potential is there. It isn’t the same for me. If I thought a guy was cute, he would first have to be gay, and the chances of that aren’t in my favor. This makes finding a partner so much more depressing”. So if finding a partner for homosexuals is hard as it is—why make it harder by not allowing them to marry gay immigrants? The law should be clear and consistent in what it says, and legalizing gay marriage but restricting who they can marry is not justice.

 

I hope to one day see gay marriage legalized across all fifty states, which would make applying for a visa a lot easier. This isn’t going to be easy though—the fight for gay marriage reform is far from over. In our world today, pluralism and tolerance are necessary, but the majority of our worldly problems are rooted in ignorance. If this country wants to move forward, it’s going to have to start with people being able to open their minds just a little more. 

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