One Irish gay man's quest to marry immigration and love
I do, but I can't : Why can't I get married to my American partner?
Most married couples like to tell the story of how they met, and I’m no exception, so here goes.
One spring night a six-foot drag queen in high heels named Chantal led me across a crowded dance floor to a quiet, thoughtful-looking man standing on his own in a gay club in Connecticut.
Drag queens aren’t famous for their subtlety, so she put my hand in his and just said, “Baby, this is your destiny.”
There are a lot of things they don’t teach you when you’re studying in high school in Ireland. One useful nugget is that drag queens make terrific matchmakers.
That first star-crossed meeting between my partner and myself happened over 12 years ago.
In most every respect it’s your typical happy-ever-after tale, and I am as happy now as any man has a right to be.
But to this day, whenever anyone asks, I always call my significant other my “partner” because the term boyfriend, I feel, implies that we’re still dating (after 12 years, I think I’ve made up my mind.)
Of course the word “husband” still has a fairly loaded cultural significance. If I used it to describe my relationship to my partner it would suggest that we have rights and entitlements in law that we actually don’t (and it’s not for want of asking for them).
You’d be surprised how often this legal murkiness pops up. Whenever I fill out an application in a store or see a doctor for any kind of service I see boxes on forms marked married, separated or single.
I'm the invisible man
What this is telling me, over and over again, is that legally, my relationship doesn’t exist. I’m the invisible man. I’m so outside the mainstream that there isn’t language to describe me.
Because I love the wrong person, you see. There’s actually a wrong way to love other people, apparently.
And of course the Defense of Marriage Act which President Clinton signed, and now says he regrets, means that no state in the union needs to treat a relationship between two persons of the same sex as a marriage, even when it’s legal in another state.
The watchdogs of the federal government, who are not usually famous for the strength of their own marriages, have decided that only one man and one woman can get hitched. Everyone else is permanently out of luck.
If you’re heterosexual and married and you’re reading this, I am willing to bet you’d feel incensed if a state or federal government decided that your relationship was suddenly invalid.
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