Op-ed: When U.S. Customs Forces My Wife Into the Closet

We asked readers for personal stories about how the U.S. Supreme Court's highly anticipated ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act has consequences for their own lives. Between the U.S. and Germany, this lesbian couple faces different laws governing their marriage.

BY Lois Bromfield and Andrea Krapf

June 04 2013 5:00 AM ET

Lois Bromfield and Andrea Krapf
My partner and I have been together for six years. I’m an American, and she's German. In 2009 in Germany, we were joined in a civil union, which means we are excluded from several laws pertaining to adoption and some tax breaks. However, I was able to attain a visa and remain in Germany as a legal resident.
 
We’ve both made sacrifices in order to build a life together. While we would like someday to retire to the United States, our German union isn't recognized. Even if we were to marry in one of the 12 states that have legalized same-sex marriage, the federal government would not allow me to sponsor my partner for a green card or visa. This is a privilege available only to heterosexual married couples, along with many other rights.
 
As a lesbian married couple our rights are limited or even nonexistent in many countries around the world. In Russia, LGBT activists are jailed for demanding their rights. Laws in the Middle East would allow a court to inflict the death penalty for being gay or lesbian. In my own home country, my partner would be deported if she were to live here, regardless of our union status in Germany.
 
In August of this year, I will have to return to the U.S. for work and to settle a home in Florida. My partner will be permitted to visit me for 90 days, the same time allotted a tourist. Whenever my partner is asked by U.S. immigration why she’s coming into the country, she tells them she’s visiting a friend. Certainly, if she were to say she’s coming to see her “wife,” it would raise a red flag, and she could be denied entry. 
 
We have fought too hard and long to slip back into the closet.
 
 
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