READ: Open Letter to Obama From Exiled Binational Couples in South Africa
BY Sunnivie Brydum
May 26 2013 2:50 PM ET
Dear President Obama,
Due to the exclusion of same-sex binational couples in U.S. immigration law and your administration’s decision to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, we have been given no choice but to reside outside the United States.
Since 1999, South Africa has allowed its citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex foreign partners for residency. In the absence of the same protection under U.S. law, South Africa became the only country where we and our partners could legally live in the same country.
Despite your recent statement that, “I think that this provision is the right thing to do,” it has been reported that your administration nonetheless advised Sen. Patrick Leahy to not call for a vote that would have protected our families and ensured our swift return to the United States. The inclusion of same-sex binational couples in comprehensive immigration reform was our last hope, should the Supreme Court uphold the Defense of Marriage Act next month.
We have been failed by both the Senate and the Democratic Party; the latter we expected to support us during our greatest moment in immigration reform history. We would love nothing more than to have the fundamental right to live in our own country with our partners, where we would be creating jobs and contributing to the economy and society.
When Senator Leahy introduced the amendment which would have protected us, he highlighted the heart-wrenching dilemma in which same-sex binational couples are placed: “I do not believe we should ask Americans to choose between the love of their life and love of their country.” Yet, this is exactly what your administration asked us to do when it caved into bigotry and asked Senator Leahy to not call for a vote on the amendment.
We invite you to meet with our group on your state visit next month to South Africa. We would like you to meet couples whose futures now solely depend on the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA, and whom your administration traded as a bargaining chip for political expediency. We would like you to look us in the eye and explain exactly what steps your administration is taking to allow us and our foreign partners to live in the United States, which is a right enjoyed by the vast majority of American citizens.
Dan Brotman, Massachusetts, now Cape Town
William Daniels, Ohio, now Cape Town
Carol Lipshitz, Pennsylvania, now Cape Town
Michael McDonald, New York, now Cape Town
Griffin Shea, Louisiana, now Johannesburg
Anthony von Reichert, Georgia, now Pretoria
Nicole Wallace, Tennessee, now Cape Town