One Irish gay man's quest to marry immigration and love


In 2009 same-sex couples who have been legally married in U.S. states or foreign countries are not able to immigrate here based on their marriage. It’s time that inequality ended.

Because it’s no small matter. It ends up costing a lot -- financially and in other ways.

Paying a fortune to adjust a visa

Heterosexual couples can go down to City Hall and pick up a marriage license for $50, then adjust their visa status, but gay couples have to pay their lawyers tens of thousands of dollars to secure the basic right just to stay together.

My partner likes to joke that it’s because we’re worth more, but there’s anger beneath his throwaway statement.

In my view the Defense of Marriage Act, Proposition 8 and other anti-gay marriage initiatives are a kind of theft, really. They’re profoundly un-American, too – because they’re a taking away of rights, not a granting of them.

Through Proposition 8, for example, a bare majority of California voters said we disapprove of gay people and their relationships, so we will vote away their marriages, and we will ensure that they won’t have the right to marry in the future.

In other words, we’ll make you all invisible. We’ll make you disappear. You have no “right” to exist anyway.

Fighting for my rights

The most disturbing silence of all on Proposition 8 emanated from the White House, where the self-described “fierce advocate” for gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual rights, President Obama, didn’t feel compelled to say one word about the raft of signature gay issues before him in his first 100 days.

But in saying all this, I don’t want to give you the impression that I’m discouraged or bitter, or that I’ll ever stop fighting for my rights.

On the contrary, I’m happier these days than I’ve ever been and to be honest my life amazes me. Back in Donegal in the 1990s I never even imagined the life I live now.

A good day back then was going out for a pint with my mates and not coming home in plaster casts. It’s amazing how travel, time and experience can change your whole perspective.

On TV, I’ve lost count of the number of wrenching Hollywood dramas I’ve watched over the years where some sensitive young man is tortured by the weighty question of whether he should tell people he’s gay or not.

Will Mom and Dad send him packing? What will the neighbors think? Oh, the drama.

My dad shrugged when I told him

But that wasn’t me. At all. My dad shrugged when I told him. My aunts rolled their eyes. My female friends fell about laughing, delighted to find a Donegal man who enjoyed listening to them talk about themselves.

So for me being gay was never a problem. It was mostly other people’s problem. I was actually fine with it.

I mean, I never felt an urge to stand on a soap-box and shout myself hoarse over the discovery. I just thought, well this is going to be interesting … and I was right.

And it’s a bit of trade secret, this, but gay couples can be every bit as boring and sedentary as their straight friends. I mean it’s unusual, but it happens.

In my own life I actually love staying in on a Friday night with my partner and watching Netflicks, same as anyone. I adore lazy Sundays with a good book.

I like to cook Italian and French. I’m partial to an Irish stew and a pint of Guinness. I have two insane cats and they make me laugh.

Don't gay people come from families too?

It’s the simple things, I’ve discovered, that I really love.

But to hear other people tell it you’d think I spend all my time plotting the downfall of civilization. To hear some people tell it, you’d expect my life to be a non-stop party of self-indulgence and irresponsibility -- in those quiet moments when I’m not undermining the family, that is.

But don’t gay people come from families too? I mean I do, and I like families a lot. So why would I want to undermine them? No one can ever answer that, I’ve found.

So things are very good here, on the whole, and there’s no question that New Yorkers are a tolerant lot.

Today I’ve finally made my home here and it’s a good one. But I’m not fooled.

There’s a definite path to power in this world, and the trail always seems to end at the desk of a (middle aged, white) heterosexual man who holds the power of life and death over you. He can sign your marriage certificate, authorize your visa, approve your mortgage, and employ you -- or not.

Wresting even a little power from the far-reaching hands of this man has taken feminists, progressives, civil rights activists and gays over 40 years, and frankly it still looks like he’s still holding all the aces.

The sky hasn't fallen

But despite all the political foot dragging, marriage equality is coming. Gay couples can already get legally married in six of the 50 states.