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Plight of Davenport man highlighted by campaign to end DOMA
A former Peace Corps volunteer now living in Davenport will celebrate the first anniversary of finding the one he loves next month, but he won’t have his loved one at his side or even on the same continent.
Brad, who did not divulge his full name, has shared the story of his meeting and subsequent romance with Raul, who resides in Cuenca, Ecuador, with The DOMA Project, a campaign launched last month by a group of married binational couples working with an attorney and intent on fighting the national Defense of Marriage Act and its impact on U.S. immigration law.
Brad and Raul met in mid-2009, when Brad was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador.
“As soon as we met, we had that kind of innate chemistry, and we bonded quickly,” Brad recalled. “We knew that we wanted to be together as a couple, and after a few months of stalling on my part as I weighed the practical considerations, we began our relationship.”
When Brad’s volunteer service ended in July 2010, Brad returned to Iowa and Raul remained in Ecuador. Although Raul applied for a tourist visa to visit Brad in the U.S., he was denied and “has little prospect of coming to the U.S. on a work visa” because he works as a construction laborer.
Although many of the couples who have shared their binational relationships publicly on The DOMA Project are fighting to prevent their partners or spouses from being deported, Brad would just like Raul to have the possibility of visiting with him in the U.S., meeting his family and viewing his hometown.
“We understand that it would only be a brief visit, but as we are planning our lives together, it would mean so much to us,” said Brad.
The couple will be united briefly beginning January 2011 when Brad begins new employment in Ecuador, but they fear that their reunion will be short-lived. Brad has applied to doctorate programs in the states and, if accepted, will likely return to finish his education.
“If I am offered admission and the chance of a lifetime it represents, Raul and I will face a decision that no heterosexual couples in our situation would be forced to make. We will have to decide whether to live 3,000 miles apart and wait for the laws to change or live together in exile and accept the consequences for our livelihoods and standard of living,” Brad said.
Because of the restrictions placed by DOMA, same-sex couples cannot file a finance visa petition on behalf of their loved ones, even if they are legally married. Henry Velandia and Josh Vandiver, who were married in August in Connecticut, have begun a Facebook page to help raise awareness about Henry’s pending deportation from the U.S.
According to information published by The DOMA Project, in most cases the federal banning of same-sex marriages is the only obstacle preventing married binational couples from achieving resolution of their immigration issues, and many have been effectively exiled to third-party countries where their relationships are recognized by law. The couples are being represented by attorney Lavi Soloway, who founded the like-minded organization Immigration Equality.