Advocacy News - Love exile cycles for same-sex marriage
September 20, 2005
Love exile cycles for same-sex marriage
"If I could take a billboard on a bicycle ride, this is what mine would say", love exile Martha McDevitt-Pugh quips."I had to move to Holland to marry my wife. I wish I could have gotten married at home."
McDevitt-Pugh is riding from the Bay Area to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's office in Sacramento this Wednesday and Thursday. The Governor has until 23 September to sign the equal rights marriage bill, but he has already indicated he intends to veto the decision of the Senate and the Assembly earlier this month to allow same-sex marriage in their state.
McDevitt-Pugh's goal is to persuade Governor Schwarzenegger to change his mind. McDevitt-Pugh lives as a "love exile" in the Netherlands. She decided only days before the ride that she had to be in California to do her part.
"I couldn't sit at home and wait for the outcome. It's not normal thing for me to drop everything to fly halfway across the world, but I have to do what I can".
She met with members of organizations for bi-national and same sex couples, Immigration Equality San Francisco and Love Sees No Borders, as well as with Equality California, before deciding to ride her bike to make her voice heard. Others will join her on the ride.
"Living in Amsterdam I've learned that riding a bike is the way to get most places. I just hope it gets us closer to equality in the eyes of the law."
McDevitt-Pugh knows the passing of the bill will not make it possible for her to sponsor her Dutch wife to live in the USA. Nor will it make a difference to the hundreds of same-sex bi-national couples in the US who are presently filing for emigration to Canada. Or to the many BI-national gay and lesbian couples being forcibly separated after sometimes more than 20 years under the new immigration stringency of the Patriot Act. The large community of Americans who are in limbo, not able to live in the country of their life partner and not able to bring their partner to live with them in the United States, will also not be affected by the passage of this law.
"But it will bring us one step closer to immigration equality, and it will give us hope," says McDevitt-Pugh. "Our message to the governor is simple: don't veto my family."
McDevitt-Pugh established Love Exiles when she realized how wrong it was that the United States had forced her to leave the United States to be with her life partner. Love Exiles is for all BI-national couples and also has chapters in Germany, the UK and Canada.
"People contact us from many countries - Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, as well as the US, Switzerland, Italy - because they lack the right to live in their own country with their partner and children."
Only 16 countries in the world allow their own citizens to sponsor a same-sex partner or spouse as legal immigrants. In the other 176 countries in the world, gay and lesbian citizens have no right to live legally together with their foreign partners and are for all intents and purposes "legal strangers".