Advocacy News - Gay exodus to Canada
November 4, 2004
exodus to Canada
do not feel alone in this movement. It seems there are a lot of people, gay and
otherwise, that find the atmosphere is increasingly unwelcoming in this country."
" ... since
the US election Tuesday the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website has had
unusually high traffic from the US. On Wednesday it hit an all time high ..."
We noticed it as soon as we opened our email inbox the morning after the U.S. election: more than the usual amount of inquires from Americans asking for information about marriage and immigration in Canada.
Coincidence? We thought not, so we wrote back, and asked others, to learn more.
"We are DEFINITELY considering a move," writes Michelle Adams (Washington State), "and I started looking into the residency requirements this morning."
It is painful feeling excluded from the American dream.
"For me," wrote Michelle, "it carries with it a great deal of sadness. I have always loved my country. I have always believed in the inherent good and fairness of the American people. I knew we had our flaws...but I believed in this country and the values of freedom and justice for all was still basic to the American frame of mind. I feel as though all of that was stolen from me last night, and actually considered writing a letter directly to Karl Rove for being such a genius on how to tap into peoples' fears and prejudice in order to elect an incompetent administration. Then, I was afraid to do even that, for fear of becoming an "enemy combatant" who disagrees with the government. Never did I think our country would turn on its own citizens the way it has...and that is incredibly sad for me."
"But when that time comes," writes Ryan, "I do not intend to turn such a beautiful moment of my life it into a legal battle, because a group of people want to push their dogmas on me."
As a couple whose marriage did become a legal battle, we can appreciate Ryan's hesitation to become engaged in such circumstances.
"Even before the election," writes Alan Saugey, " we were already talking about it and checking on immigration laws."
"Neither of us wanted to move until both of our states voted on the Marriage Equality Amendments," writes Alan. "Both states banned same-sex marriage."
Having built up a successful career, and after volunteering for political and human rights groups in the the U.S., Alan and his partner think it's time to reconsider their options.
"Who knows, at 38 years of age and 34 years of age, we are not too old to be poor again and start over. It may be the best move for both of us."
"My partner and I are seriously thinking of moving to Europe," writes Californian lawyer Andrew Alder. "After living through the HIV pandemic to reach the age of 51, at this point I am not in the least willing to stay here in the US, an increasing stranger in my own land, and endure four more years of gay bashing by the right-wing Christians.
"Passage of all 11 amendments yesterday is but the tip of the iceberg, and no one can be foolish enough to believe that legal efforts against gay/lesbian folk will be limited to preventing them from getting married. (Witness the new US Senator from South Carolina who stated during his campaign that he supported legislation banning gays, unwed mothers, and pregnant women from being teachers!) ... The infuriating aspect to all this, is that I sincerely believe this country does still, as it has for so many over so many years, hold out the promise of freedom and self-realization, but that promise has been so nakedly turned on its head by craven politicians who are more interested in short-term political gain than they are in laboring to make the soaring rhetoric of the American experiment match the reality of the American experience. That effort is what has distinguished so much of our history, and it is in the inherent worth of that effort that so many of us still want to hold faith. At this point, however, I refuse to go along with the perversion of the American dream and will, therefore, consider leaving the US."
"I generally feel pretty proud to be American and still can't imagine actually giving up my citizenship," writes Andria, "so it's a bit unsettling to feel so strongly that I don't belong here. With 2 children to think of, I have to try and make decisions in our best interests as a family. I think of families crossing over to Florida from Cuba on rafts made of bottles and tires and feel grateful that I can consider this move without putting our lives in jeopardy. But it feels like the most American thing I can think of to sacrifice home ties for freedom and equality. How ironic that we have to leave the US for that. I was very depressed this morning, but taking steps down this path has been helpful. Doing something tangible has been an uplifting experience and I'm excited by the possibilities, as well as the adventure, of learning about a new city and a new country!"
While there are clearly people who are considering or preparing to leave the United States, others are determined to fight on for full equality.
"It's my responsibility to make a difference here," writes Robby Johnson who lives with his partner Robert Peterson in Arkansas. "It's hard to type that, as we were present at Toronto's Gay Pride celebration in 2003 and had an incredible time celebrating the legalization of gay marriage in Ontario."
Our friend Bill Dubay in Seattle agrees.
"We'll stay and fight," he says. "We are going to get to where we want to go, it is just going to take longer."
"Our enemies would love us to get out," says Chicago-based advocate Bill Kelley. "Why give them the satisfaction? Keep doing what we can to attack theocracy and superstition, acknowledge progress that's occurring in some areas even amid defeats in others, and know that progress is inevitable even when bumpy."