Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Torn Apart: Ed and Tim, Binational Gay Couple in Durham

(Thanks to ENC Communication Intern Matthew McGibney.)

I met Ed at the Equality NC Day of Action in May, while we were both waiting to speak with Representative EllieKinnaird. We got to talking (mostly of our love for Kinnaird) and I learned that Ed’s partner of 10 years, Tim, is a Canadian citizen. This usually wouldn’t be too terrible, but then I learned that Tim will have to leave the country in August for a year when his visa expires (which actually is terrible).

It’s made worse because Ed would be able to sponsor Tim’s permanent citizenship, but their decade-long relationship is not recognized by the Immigration Department (they’re gay, see).

The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) is a bill that would recognize their commitment and make it possible for Ed and Tim to stay together here in America, but it’s currently stalled in Congress.

Imagine all the problems you’d have if you had to pack up and leave the country for a year. Tim’s employer won’t be able to leave his job open for that time, and there are no guarantees at all that he’d be able to get it back when he returns. There will be inconveniences when it comes to housing and work. But these are just practical problems compared to the fact that Ed and Tim will be forced to live apart for a year.

Sometimes, when discussing national issues, it’s easier to treat them in the abstract. But here is a concrete example that these issues affect the lives of everyday Americans. A policy from Washington, D.C. will keep apart a couple in Durham, North Carolina.

There are 36,000 same-sex binational couples in America, according to the Census. That’s a huge number for me. I can’t conceptualize the shared problems of 72,000 people, but I can identify the plight of two, living right over in Durham.

It feels so unfair because straight couples can just get married and sponsor their partner for citizenship, but this isn’t an option for Ed and Tim. Their journey is going to include a year where they can’t be together in their country of choice, and plenty of hoops to jump through after that. They deserve all the rights and protection afforded to their straight neighbors, but their relationship is not considered by the immigration authorities.

You can find more information on the Facebook group dedicated to the couple, Keep Ed and Tim Together- Fight Immigration Injustice or at Immigration Equality.
Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202)224-3121, ask to speak with your Senators and Representative, and let them know you support Immigration Equality and the UAFA.


  1. Great piece Matthew! Immigration reform that includes LGBT families is so important, and I am delighted to see Equality NC highlighting exactly why! I hope others will join me in supporting ENC's incredible work. -Win Chesson

  2. Also, major Kudos to Chapel Hill's Town Council passing a resolution in support of UAFA under the leadership of Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt. Check out the coverage here:

  3. Thanks Matthew and Shawn. It greatly moves me to have good people like you on our side. I'm so glad to know you both!