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Judy Rickard Headshot

A Story of Three Flags: Mine, Hers and Ours

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June 14, Flag Day, made me stop and think again about the symbolism of flags and how a simple piece of cloth is so much more than that.

My flag is red, white and blue -- the Stars and Stripes. My country and citizenship is United States of America/American.

My wife's flag is also red, white and blue -- the Union Jack. Her country and citizenship is England/British (though she was born German in Germany).

Our flag, mine and Karin's together, is the flag of men and women who are in every country, of every nationality. Karin and I are lesbians. The rainbow flag, the symbol of the LGBT community worldwide, represents us, without borders or nationalities.

You might think that is cute, or symbolic, or something different. But in a nutshell, this tale of three flags is our nightmare. It made me take early retirement. It made us spend months apart, in different countries, until I quit my job years earlier than planned. My flag won't let her flag in without a fight. Right now, we are in that fight, and we will hear any day now if we win or lose.

My flag, my country, won't let me sponsor her flag, her citizenship, her gender, for U.S. immigration. That's because of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. Because of that, we can't get the dream we want -- our three flags flying peacefully and safely together at our home, where we want to live, by our choice, not by the U.S. government's choice.

Why does it have to be so hard? Why does it seem impossible? Why do we have to wait so long? Why do same-sex binational families like ours have to suffer so much?

Please share our story. Please help LGBT binational families who are discriminated against when American spouses cannot sponsor their non-American spouses for immigration. And especially help us fight this discrimination when children face separation from a parent. That is unforgivable!

Thanks, all. This is what we want: three flags together in peace. Take a look; it can happen.

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