THE BLOG
10/20/2013 05:30 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

15 Years in a Binder

Last month, my husband and I celebrated our 15th anniversary. In a few days, we need to prove those 15 years real to an immigration adjudicator, now that my spouse is able to sponsor me for a green card. This one person will decide our future in the country we love and call home, possibly radically altering our lives just as five Supreme Court justices did four months ago. We will be presenting this arbiter with an inch and a half binder, an abridged edition of our life as a couple.

Enclosed, each in its own plastic sleeve, are supporting documents that include shared leases, savings and credit card accounts, pension plans and living wills naming the other as sole beneficiary, and health care proxies guaranteeing the other makes life and death decisions when the time comes. These proxies were written up eight years ago when couples like us had no legal rights or protections, documents we always had on hand whenever we traveled outside of New York City, just in case.

Over a hundred select pictures countenance our history. The first Christmas at our cramped East Village studio, followed by holidays in Times Square, Charlotte, and Chapel Hill. The first time my husband's parents met me on neutral ground at the Philadelphia Flower Show. The first time my large Filipino-American family met John in Chicago for my cousin's debut. Formal parties celebrating my lola's 80th then 90th birthday. Grad school graduations from General Theological Seminary and the New School. John's ordination at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine with family members and friends in attendance. Summers in Maine. President Obama's first and second inauguration. And of course, our civil ceremony at Moultrie Courthouse in Washington, D.C. three years ago. An elopement that was later celebrated on Facebook, Washington, and New York.

Notarized letters from family and friends attest that ours was not a marriage of convenience. We have over two dozen missives from folks who know us as a couple. From kin as well as from good friends, colleagues, and fellow advocates for civil rights and equality. A lawmaker has written on our behalf, so has a bishop. Finally for good measure, we have tossed in a few cards written to us both, mailed to our home address.

Perhaps this is all overkill. After all, there is no reason why my husband's petition should be denied since we do meet the criteria. More so, I'd imagine, than countless straight binational couples who have much shorter histories and less proof than we do and whose marriages have been deemed real and worthy of green cards. But our long struggle with the immigration system as a gay binational couple leaves us a bit anxious. When we do finally learn that our 15 years together has been judged real and have a green card on hand, then will we exhale.

Originally posted on Op-E.

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