Sunday, 12 August 2007

United by Love, Divided by Law

US immigration law discriminates same sex couples: among others, a story of Armenian American Rita Boyadjian

Sebastian Cordoba’s documentary "Through Thick and Thin" received prestigious Freedom Award at last month’s Outfest Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. According to GayWired, "the film depicts the cruel and heartbreaking scenarios gay and lesbian Americans in love with a foreign partner must endure and struggle to overcome due to discriminatory US immigration laws."

Cordoba, who is originally from Argentina, has first-hand experience of this injustice. His own relationship with an American broke up in part because of constant stress over the uncertainty of his visa issues.

Unlike a heterosexual spouse, a gay U.S. citizen cannot sponsor his or her noncitizen partner for a green card

Teresa Watanabe from LA Times reports about this issue and brings about real life examples of broken hearts and struggle for happiness under the target of US discriminatory immigration rules. Among others, there is also a story of lesbian couple - a story of Armenian American Rita Boyadjian:

"Rita Boyadjian, a Los Angeles entertainment marketing executive, is also facing hard choices. Her partner, who is seven months pregnant and asked for anonymity for fear of reprisals by immigration officials, is studying to be a chef in Santa Monica. But her student visa expires next year; unless she can get a work visa after that, the pair will have to move.

Boyadjian said she researched, at considerable expense, different legal ways for her partner to stay in the United States. None panned out. An investor visa requires her partner to put up her own money, not Boyadjian's. An H1-B work visa is difficult to obtain. Boyadjian's partner has turned down offers by men to fake a marriage because they don't want to skirt the law.

The pair has reluctantly decided to relocate to Canada, if necessary, with Boyadjian commuting weekly between there and Los Angeles. But Boyadjian said she resented the specter of having to spend so much time away from her family, possibly missing her baby's first steps and words. It will be costly, too, to pay for weekly flights and maintain two households and offices, she said.

"I'm angry that I'm a U.S. citizen, born in L.A., and I may have to leave my own country as a refugee," Boyadjian said, adding that her parents emigrated from Egypt in 1969 to escape persecution as Armenian Christians. The whole thing has been a nightmare, quite honestly."

According to Human Rights Watch , only 19 countries currently recognise same-sex relationships for the purpose of immigration. The forms of recognition and its particulars vary. Here is the list of these countries:

New Zealand
South Africa
United Kingdom

*source of picture: Out4Immigration


Anonymous said...

well...what can i say...Canada is a much better place to be gay!

Sandra Keyes said...

Is Rhiannon stupid?

Home is a much better place to be gay...

Great blog BTW :)


artmika said...

Thanks for compliments, Sandra :)

I think there is misunderstanding, I know Rhiannon, and I am sure she would agree with you. She just meant (at least that's my understanding) to single out Canada as an example of one of only 19 countries that currently recognise same-sex relationships for the purpose of immigration (according to HRW).

artmika said...

Rita Boyadjian's story: follow-up (Gay marriage: until deportation do us part?)

Sandra Keyes said...

Oh, sorry Rhiannon. I'm just a bit touchy... :)