Posts Tagged ‘gay rights’

The theoretical becomes possible.

June 27, 2013

So, the Supreme Court overturned the Defence of (heterosexual) Marriage Act. I think this means we could all theoretically move to Country A, at least as soon as marriage equality passes in law here. Then our civil partnership could be ‘upgraded’ to a marriage. And then, as far as I understand, the federal government of Country A would have to legally recognise our marriage and we would have a legal leg to stand on if we wished to immigrate.

If I have that wrong, someone please enlighten me.

I read a few minute ago about a binational couple – one was in the midst of being deported when the SCOTUS ruling came out, and the judge immediately stopped the proceeding because, lo and behold, this couple was legally married in a right on state, and therefore entitled to federal benefits…including immigration. Big stuff.

Of course, the rest of the dominos need to fall, the rest of that country needs marriage equality otherwise it is all a colossal head fuck, but still.

This brings real questions about our life up. I have dual citizenship, as do the children. So we could move elsewhere without any legal hassle if we wanted to move back.

But moving to Country A would require such a lifestyle overhaul. I’d probably have to be the one to work while TMD stayed home. We would have to move to a gay friendly state, namely worrying about insurance. Over here, everyone has ‘free’ healthcare. I could break my leg tomorrow and not have to worry about how today for x rays or painkillers. As far as I understand, some states (and most companies) do not allow benefits for same sex partners. Does the ruling stop this? What is the reality of insurance in that country? I’ve never been a real adult there, so I don’t know.

Home education would be protected in the areas we would ever consider moving to. So that isn’t an issue.

But JOBS.

Let’s be real, I know what field I would be ready to step back into….though I’d prefer TMD to do it….but it is an incompatible job for married people with a family. Totally time consuming and all encompassing.

I like our lifestyle here. I think moving across the planet is a huge undertaking, even when you are moving back to a country you have lived before. People move on, things change, and when you have lived abroad since your early twenties, well, there’s a lot to learn.

I’d love to live near my family, but I love living here.

I don’t think my mother understands the SCOTUS ruling or the implications. It’s always been easy to try to fob off the guilt trips, considering my relationship had no legal status in Country A. I have a bit more buffer time until the marriage equality law changes here, but the process has already started and it is only a matter of time. Once we are legally married, and Country A is forced to recognise that marriage, well…..no longer am I an exile. No longer do I HAVE to choose between my wife/family and my birth country.

But you know what, this is my country, too. My home.

No matter where we live, one of us will be far from family. I don’t doubt we would figure things out, probably be very happy in either place. But man, what a lot to think about.

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Lesbian adoption. (aka, all the shit we had to do to be a legal family)

July 13, 2010

Well, I slept last night!! Despite the cat jumping over the fence and being unable to get back at ten – so I had to come back from the edge of sleep to watch babies while TMD chased the cat around. Then at midnight was double teething pain – 20 minutes of rock concert howling from both babies. Etc etc. I managed to fall back asleep through all these obstacles and feel like a different person today, though there’s no denying I’m still tired.

But the babies fell asleep reeeeally late last night – 10 pm. They normally sleep sometime between 6-7, 7:30 at the latest. This meant they slept in, which was super duper awesome as we had to leave quite early to meet with the adoption social worker about TMD adopting the babies.

For those not in the know, things in the country we live in are pretty good for the lesbian squad. If you have IVF in a fertility clinic, as we did, both mums get named on the birth certificate. Unfortunately, this law came into force when I was four months pregnant and there was no ‘backdating.’

That meant we have had to take a certain number of steps to protect TMD as their parent, and make sure our family is iron clad, legally. This is one of the reasons we chose to use an anonymous donor through the clinic rather than a known donor – known donors fuck up birth certificates, parental rights, and adoption proceedings.

So, what did we do?

When I was pregnant we both had extensive wills made. At their birth TMD had no real legal rights over them, so we needed to make sure that if I died in labour (morbid, but these things do happen and we needed to protect our family) she would get custody of the babies. These wills required us to think about who would get the babies if we both died, and other nice things to think about when you are heavily pregnant and very emotional. I’m glad we made them, though. Our wishes are in black-and-white.

Our next step was to get TMD parental responsibility. This means she has full legal power in regards to Snort and Coconut – she can make medical decisions, educational decisions, etc etc. It’s pretty powerful, legally binding (though very easy to get  – you just fill out some paperwork and get it stamped by a court officer. Anyone needing more info, I’m happy for you to get in touch and I’ll help you out…), and essentially makes someone have, well, the responsibility of a parent.

This has been useful because TMD has had to take each baby to the doctor’s on a few occasions without me there, and in theory she wouldn’t legally be allowed to do that without permission from me unless she had parental responsibility. In practice, her position as their mother has never been challenged. Our main doctor knows we’re a two mom family and is very pro-gay families, but even among other professionals it’s never been questioned. I am grateful for this, because it would hurt me to have her considered some sort of second class non-parent.

The final step is adoption. What this does is get TMD’s name put on their birth certificate.

Lots of people who are against the change in law are very upset about the whole two moms on the birth certificate thing. They say birth certificates are records of ‘natural’ parents and putting two women on them is against the will of god…and the queen….and the aliens watching over us. These are people who don’t understand the function of a birth certificate, in this country.

The names on the birth certificate are the legal, forever, iron clad parents of the child. Having your name on the birth certificate means you have all the rights and responsibilities of a parent, and it cannot be challenged. Ever. (I mean, assuming you are a good parent and not endangering your child.) It’s not just a piece of paper, it is a powerful document granting you the right to legally parent the child you love.

So we had an initial meeting with a senior adoption social worker today. The wait list for the process to get started is ‘well over a year.’ The process sounds like it will be very straightforward for us – no other party (aka known donor), etc etc. That being said, ‘straightforward’ will be five or six home visits from the social worker, a visit to me from a court worker to find out, essentially, if I really want to give TMD these rights, two visits to court, etc. We don’t anticipate any problems, but it is a bummer to think they might not be adopted until they are approaching three years old. That sounds so old to me right now.

We are going through the same process a step parent would, and in fact, it’s called ‘step parent adoption.’ The fact that we had a civil partnership (separate but equal, sigh) in effect when the babies were born did give TMD ‘step parent rights’ over them from birth, though neither of us knows what that really means.

There is no process for families in our situation, when they are being adopted by a person who has been their parent from the second they were conceived. And that’s unlikely to change, as the new law means future families won’t have to jump through any of these hoops.

Neither of us was nervous today – both of us have worked extensively with social workers in a professional capacity, so it felt quite natural to go into a big ass social services building for an initial interview. What was weird was going into a client interview room rather than into the staff section!

Neither of us is looking forward to a social worker coming into our home to evaluate the sort of parent TMD is, or to offer judgment on our family or parenting perspectives. Again, we have no reason to think things won’t go well, but it’s still an invasion into what is already a happy and functioning family. The senior worker we saw today kept remarking on how happy and settled the babies were, and complemented us for being such loving parents. That was nice. I hope the social worker we are eventually assigned (you know, in some time ‘well over a year’ away) is as cordial and friendly and accepting.

The babies having both of our names on that certificate is the first step towards us moving. We don’t know where we will move, or for certain what country we’ll end up in (country z?), but we know we’re not moving until TMD’s name is on that birth certificate, next to my name, right where it should have been from day one.

Lesbian bicontinental mummies.

December 16, 2009

What’s on my mind tonight? Immigration.

When we set foot on the soil of Country A this weekend, a lot is at stake. A ‘normal’ family would just pick the ‘citizens’ or ‘foreign nationals’ line and line up together. Fill in one form.

Us? I am a citizen of Country A and Country B, as are the babies. TMD is only a citizen of Country B, as Country A is a giant big fat redneck ho-down of ignorance in terms of gay rights. Country A can actually refuse her entry into its hallowed fields of grain, etc etc as she is legally married to little ol’ me. (With a legality that is erased and unrecognised by the unbelievable arrogance of the federal laws of Country A.)

Before we had children, we would separate at the immigration lines without being coupley at all. We went through our independent lines. I was never questioned about anything regarding relationships, though I faced a fair number of questions like this: Why don’t you want to live in our great country? What is wrong with it? Why would you choose to live somewhere else? I’ve had my bags ripped apart, I’ve been shamelessly flirted with by male customs and immigration men, I have been questioned and had my answers recorded into their giant database thing.

TMD has had the odd question as well. Coming here for Christmas – what, aren’t your family mad about that? You’ve been in this country a lot recently….why is that? Do you have a boyfriend here?

I have felt belittled and angry about having to be closeted at all. I have no shame about myself, my wife, and our family. But I’ve kept my mouth shut because, well, sometimes that is easier, particularly when the people you are talking to have guns and shiny badges.

With children, things get a lot more complicated. For me, I’ll be asked to prove that I have the right to be taking them abroad on my own – I suspect this will be a bigger issue on the return trip home rather than going into that country, but still. The issue is there. I’ll be asked who I’m travelling with, as I’m actually not able to fly alone with two four month old babies.  We both have full parental responsibility for Snort and Coconut, which makes things even messier. TMD and I do not want to lie. But we don’t want to overshare, either.

I was supposed to be in a wheelchair in both airports, but have decided I will probably try to walk in Country A. This means I can go alone through the citizens immigration line with the babies and TMD can go through the foreign nationals line. Hopefully no one will want to fuck around with me too much, as I will have two babies and a giant ass twin stroller (we need it for the car seats!).

We shouldn’t have to have conversations about whether we should split up or go through as a family. We shouldn’t know that to go through as a family is inviting questions at best, TMD being detained or deported at worst. We shouldn’t be planning all of the documents we will need – including TMD getting a letter stating that she has a full time job over here and is due back at work on 5 January.

TMD shouldn’t be crying because she is scared that somehow, the unthinkable will happen and she will have to spend Christmas alone. (Incidentally, we would fly back with her…assuming they would make provision to find the babies and me seats…but why would they, if they were already fine with not recognizing us as a family?)

I shouldn’t be angry about the fact that only a few years from now, the babies won’t be babies any more and we’re going to have some tough discussions about why immigration is so different here in our home as compared to Country A.

While I know it’s very unlikely either of us will be questioned that much, and that there is no way they could stop her entering – we have a life in this country, a mortgage, full time jobs, she’s clearly not looking to make an illegal and lifelong move to The Country That Time Forgot – it’s still upsetting and scary. I won’t get my wheelchair, true, but what’s a million times more important is that we are going to be treated as less than a fully human family.

So fuck you, Country A.

I am speechless, and that doesn’t happen often.

November 2, 2009

Reading the story of a funky, big hearted lady about to give birth to her baby, who was a lovingly donated embryo – from another blogger!! People amaze me.

So does this video, which I shamelessly ripped off of her website. It made me cry cry cry…happy and sad tears.

When people are united by those things we all want – love, acceptance, hope – how powerful we are both as individuals and as a community.

I really recommend you taking the next three minutes to watch this. Love is stronger than fear.

Can’t figure out how to embed this into this entry. Any help is appreciated!

 

My family matters.

October 26, 2009

What do you want me to say? I could write a right on political statement about why gay rights are worth fighting for, but it’s nothing you haven’t read before. Nothing you don’t already agree or disagree with.

Step into my life for one day, one morning, one instant.

I stare down at my two ten week old babies, and I pause. My heart aches. My family matters. We are worth it. My children have two moms, and I believe they are all the luckier for it.

I can’t believe that people are fighting in courts, running campaigns, debating civil rights. It just doesn’t make sense to me. What’s NOT to embrace? Our babies poop, we like to tickle them, we all love each other.

Yet we aren’t recognised in the country I was born in. My children and I are citizens of that country, and yet we couldn’t move there and bring their Mum with us. We are nervous stepping off the plane when we arrive there, and it makes me feel small and nervous and ANGRY.

We are living on the other side of the world from my family, and this is because I choose our family over the family I was born into – and there shouldn’t have to be a choice.

My children deserve to grow up in a world where all people are celebrated. Fuck acceptance or tolerance – we ARE all different, it’s stupid to pretend we aren’t, and it’s even stupider to not realise how powerful that makes us as people. How much we have to learn, how much we have to experience. How much stronger our own communities could be, and how much stronger we could all be if we joined together.

As that country debates gay marriage, laws that could impact immigration, people are angry…on both sides. While the storm rages on, people are embarassed, outraged, empowered, impotent, strengthened, saddened, surprised.

And here I sit, with two babies who laugh in their sleep, have full tummies, light up when they see their Mummy is home from work, who watch everything we do with intense concentration. I look at these two little people and my heart clenches. They are worth being brought up in a world that won’t make them feel awkward or afraid. We are a family, and we are worth it.

My son and daughter may be gay, straight, trans. They may be rock stars, scientists, musicians, perpetual students. They may choose to be single, or to be with someone from a different race. And you know what? I don’t care, because I love them.

If this world had a little more love, we’d all be a lot better off.

IMG_2967

And dual citizenship sucks, innit.

June 10, 2009

Erk.

My mother is very, very excited about us coming for Christmas. She is planning a big baby party for the whole family to meet the twins.

But – I’ve just found out that to enter into that country, the babies MUST have a passport from that country or they will be refused entry (because they have a claim to citizenship via myself). I am a wee bit stressed (ie breathless with worry!) about the short time scale we have to do everything.

Going to write the order of things I think needs to happen here to get it out of my head.

1. Register the birth of the babies. Get a short form birth certificate same day – but we have to register in the city where they are born, which is NOT the city we live in.

1.5 We also need to get TMD legal responsibilities – don’t know if this can happen when we register the births, or what. Also not sure where this needs to happen or on what form. I think I have the right form, but it only refers to ‘mother’ and ‘father’ so I find that confusing.

2. Get long form birth certificates for the babies. Am googling like mad but can’t actually figure out how that happens.

2.5 Get together all the paperwork to prove my citizenship (need to see that my passport is still fucking valid. I think it is), complete two application forms for citizenship, complete two applications for passports, figure out where the fuck to get baby photos that will be accepted by that country for the passports, somehow get proof that I have lived in Country A in the past – ie aquiring old school records. WTF. Pay an outrageous amount of money.

3. Go to the (Country A) consulate to register the births of citizens abroad, aquire citizenship for babies (and get same day certificates), apply for a certain identity number every citizen needs, and apply for passports.

Concurrently, we will also be applying for their passports of THIS country. I don’t actually know how to do that, unless it’s on the same form I just used, which would be handy. Unfortunately I think all the birth certificates will also be needed for this process. Therefore if anyone knows what country I live in and how the fuck to get long form certificates, perhaps you will be kind enough to tell me if I can also pay extra (money greases wheels?) to get duplicate copies at the same time we get the originals.

I am sure a few months is long enough for this to happen, but we will need the ‘foreign’ passports of the country where Mom lives in order to purchase plane tickets – I think. I hope all this doesn’t fuck up Christmas, and in a way I wish we didn’t have all this running back and forth to do. It’ll all have to be in the first month when TMD is at home.

Just what you want to do with two newborn babies – troop all over the fucking country and attend official interviews when they need to be eating every few hours. Courtesy of my boobs. Both at the same time. This is, of course, assuming that long form birth certificates don’t take weeks and weeks to arrive, which I think I have heard happens. Then TMD would have to take extra time to take us into The City to do all the consular stuff. (Let’s forget the nightmare that is public transport at this point, okay?)

Since moving to this country, I have wondered when all the legal shit and immigration nonsense will end. I guess in terms of myself it is finally sorted out as of today, but I won’t feel like it is REALLY okay until both babies have both passports – hopefully with oodles of time to spare before Christmas.

Question for parents of babies who also travel abroad (you know, like many baby mommas want to be jetting around the fucking world) – can you somehow get the children listed on your passport, therefore negating their need for a passport? Just a question.

——————

OH MY FUCKING GOD.

Just read the ‘additional requirements’ if you are applying for passports of Country A  for children under 16. Both parents have to be present, or the absent parent MUST fill in some fucking form giving consent. Handily, this country does NOT recognize same sex partnerships, civil unions, or same sex marriage.

Christ McJesus. Going to keep reading.

Ok. Apparently if I have sole responsibility (which will not be the case, as TMD will be legally responsible at that point – though NOT recognised by this fucking country) I can apply. But you know what? I also need to provide my original birth certificate and all sorts of other shit.

This is about six thousand times more complicated than any other immigration hoops I have jumped through thus far. Fucking poopheads.

———————

OH MY FUCKING GOD PART TWO. Just thought of something. At some point in this process TMD’s name will no doubt be entered into the scary database and connected with my own, which could cause her problems entering the country Mom lives in.

——————-

Another interesting postscript:

If we had conceived four months later than we did, both of us would be able to be listed on the birth certificates as parents and TMD would have full legal rights and responsibilities from day one. I reckon this would complicate shit with Country A something chronic, but then we wouldn’t have to have all these forms after they are born, worrying about the wills now, and then going through the whole adoption process from next February.

Man, this shit is fucked up.

Obama!

November 5, 2008

It feels like a holiday.

On the train to work this morning, a woman with a heavy Ghanian accent was talking with a white Swiss lady.  The Ghanian lady said, ‘My sister, if you asked her who the prime minister was, she’d have to stop and think.  But can you believe, she texted me at 5 am this morning to say that Obama had won!’

The white lady said, ‘That is amazing, all these people getting involved.’  She paused, then grabbed the black lady’s hands and squealed, ‘This is so exciting!’

I looked at the black lady, locked eyes with her, and we both beamed at each other.

Walking to work, a group of three very loud men were clutching newspapers and chatting.  One said, ‘What a day for America, for everybody.  The world is a safer place now. The world is a safer place.’

I keep smiling and smiling, feeling a pride in a country I’ve long felt very cynical about – not just a country, but my country. At 6 am this morning as we were watching the celebrations for Obama’s victory, I turned to TMD and said, ‘You know, maybe there’s a chance of us moving there now.’

And for the first time since I’ve moved abroad, I could realistically wonder when/if federal law would allow gay marriage – and recognise people who’d been married elsewhere. If this happens, suddenly the world opens back up to us.

Congratulations to everyone who voted for this incredible, idealistic man – this black man. What a fucking fantastic day.