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Another couple that may be torn apart under DOMA

DOMA trials

By Adam Bink

Frederic and Mark, who are raising four children. From Stop the Deportations:

When she wakes up on Wednesday, January 11, Claire, 8, will have a lot more to consider than the earrings she is wearing for school. Her ears were pierced as a Christmas present: a gift, she told her dad, that she had been waiting for her whole life. The Christmas tree is still up in her home, but the presents under it have all been unwrapped, and emptied, naturally. Her three brothers, John, Jacob, and Joshua, ages six through eleven, received a small arsenal of toys that have been played with and are already causing mayhem, posing tripping hazards in the hallway until Papa will offer to buy the toys back and tuck them away for safe-keeping or risk further neglect. On the surface, everything is as it should be. But John, Claire, Jacob, and Joshua are ordinary kids under extraordinary circumstances.

On January 11th, Daddy and Papa will appear before a Philadelphia Immigration Officer for a “Green Card” interview to put forward evidence of their 22-year relationship and their marriage. The goal? To be allowed to stay together with their children in this country. For a married gay couple in which one spouse is foriegn, the process of applying for permanent resident status is not straightforward. Frederick Deloizy is a French national, and, as a foreigner who has seen both his work visa and his student visa expire, the time he has left to share with his family may now be limited.

Frédéric Deloizy and Mark Himes, a US citizen were wed in California in 2008, 18 years after they first met. They represent a growing number of same-sex couples with a partner of foreign nationality at risk of separation because immigration officials are barred from recognizing their marriage under the federal Defense of Marriage Act. By contrast, any bi-national opposite-sex couple in their position would never face a future as uncertain. Despite the hurdles they face, Fred and Mark decided that they must fight for the green card based on their marriage. To do less, would be to accept the discrimination that has put their family in such a precarious position.

But theirs is a story not only about the federal government’s lack of recognition of same-sex marriage, but the legal limbo that it creates for same-sex bi-national couples with children. In two decades together, they have adopted four beautiful children, now ranging in age from six to eleven. A patchwork of incoherent legislation means that while they are recognized legally as same-sex adoptive parents in Pennsylvania, the federal govenrment refuses to recognize their marriage. They welcomed their two oldest children, John and Claire, just days after their respective birthdays in 2000 and 2003. On their 19th anniversary in April 2009, Fred and Mark welcomed Jacob and Joshua, both four years old at the time. All four of the kids would have remained wards of the state, dependent on government coffers, shuffled from one foster home to the next, if Mark and Fred had not provided a loving, stable home. Instead, they now have a Daddy and a Papa, and siblings, toys they may take for granted, and a loving home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania that may soon be torn apart.

Their interview comes just one week after the Iowa caucuses and the day after the New Hampshire primary in the backdrop of an election season where candidates jostling for position to become the Republican presidential nominee have fallen over each other to convince audiences that they are the most opposed to marriages of same-sex couples. And they are fully aware that Pennsylvania’s former Senator, Rick Santorum, is the most vitriolic. Last week, he promised that if elected he would annul all same-sex marriages. In this weekend’s candiate debates, Santorum and his fellow Republican candidates made clear that they are equally opposed to adoption by same-sex couples. Mark and Fred see this as an attack on their family. It is hard to ignore the hypocrisy of this rhetoric, as it comes from individuals who are supposedly espousing the primacy of family values. Children deserve to have a loving home and loving parents. The four children in this loving home may yet see their family ripped apart, one of their parents exiled abroad because of the Defense of Marriage Act. The law is poorly named, because it defends no one’s marriage, but threatens to destroy this one.  Laws in both the U.S. and France create significant challenges to this couple of nearly 22 years. While France recognizes same-sex relationships as civil unions and may allow Mark to immigrate there, France does not recognize same-sex adoption and consequently, does not acknowledge that they are both legal parents of their children for immigration (or any other) purpose.

Mark and Fred have put their efforts over the past few years into staying in the United States, building their home, and putting down their roots. As they await a decision on whether 2012 will be the year their family is torn apart they have decided to take the fight to their elected officials and to the President, himself a son of a binational couple.  At best, the administrative agency could choose to do what Mark and Fred consider “the right thing” and place their case into abeyance until litigation concerning the constitutionality of DOMA makes its way to the Supreme Court. At worst, Fred may be placed into deportation proceedings, their nightmare scenario. Meanwhile, the family is in a state of limbo, and it pains them as parents when they can’t answer their children with certainty about the future.

Lavi, who co-founded Stop the Deportations, reports back that their hearing went fairly well, and we at Courage are looking at ways to help. Stay tuned.

10 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Derek Williams  |  January 12, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Mark and Fred, a couple for twenty years, married for two, epitomise everything that is good and wholesome, not only about a gay relationship, but about marriage itself. The only difference between them and a monogamous heterosexual couple raising children is that these parents are of the same gender.

    Mark and Fred adopted four children who had all been discarded, for whatever reason, by their heterosexual biological parents. Such gay couples who might otherwise be childless are providing a hugely valuable social resource, because they actually want and love the children they care for, children who would otherwise languish, abandoned in orphanages.

    So, let the holier-than-thou religionists turn such families away if that's all they're good for, they will drown soon enough in their own hypocrisy and vainglorious introversion. When it comes to the state however, it will have done its job properly when it grants equal status to all its parents.

    As for adoption, we should remember that this is not about any "right to adopt", it is children who have the greater right – to have someone to look after them, someone to love, and someone to love them. The fact that there are so many homeless children in orphanages in the first place, shows that not all heterosexual parents have proved to be up to the task.

  • 2. Walter  |  January 12, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    The religious right constantly perpetuates the theme that marriage equality will destroy your marriage and harm your children, which is not true. Fight back by showing what these laws really are designed to destroy and showing who really is harmed by them. Show gay parents and their children. Then, note that the religious right pushes laws like DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) that attack gay/lesbian parents and their children in an effort to destroy their families and to destroy the parents' marriage.

  • 3. Reformed  |  January 12, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Well cry me a river! In a good way!

  • 4. Stephen & Jose  |  January 13, 2012 at 4:12 am

    My family lives this situation everyday – My partner of 8 years is holding a working visa….but every year most be re-new. It took 2 years for us to get back together…..after 5 living abroad. We know that one day, he might lose this visa….and we will be facing separation, once again.
    I ask myself – is this a fair country ? I am truly an American citizen with ALL the rights entitled under the Constitution ? Or I am some second class citizen ? (….the new Negro who must bow to his Master, and always answer "Yes Master, Thank you Master"…..)
    I don't see our conservative Supreme Court lifting a finger in our defense….I dont see Obama doing anything revolutionary…. All hear from politicians is VILE comments about me and my family.
    Perhaps, we should leave this country. Stop contributing to its growth. Stop paying taxes. Stop reciting the Pledge…..stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

  • 5. Derek Williams  |  January 13, 2012 at 5:35 am

    The President has an election to fight, but he has already stopped defending DOMA, repealed DADT, Clinton has delivered the knockout LGBT Rights speech to the UN, and there is White House memorandum on LGBT Rights plus White House support and involvement in the "It Gets Better" campaign for suicidal LGBT kids, so the current administration's track record is clearly onside.

    The Replublicans on the other hand, have declared they will uphold DOMA and reinstate DADT, therefore you won't get a better deal, or any deal at all with the GOP. Your only hope is with Obama, and he can only do it with an electoral mandate. We are a 4% declared minority, and the President has to govern for all Americans, not just us. I can only urge all readers to support your President. Obama 2012!

  • 6. Brad M  |  January 13, 2012 at 6:32 am

    What a beautiful family. I wish them both the best.

  • 7. Deeelaaach  |  January 13, 2012 at 11:06 am

    What about the responsibility to adopt? Just an idea; I have a lot of those, and not all of them are good!

  • 8. Angry Exile Couple  |  January 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I am sorry Derek….but it is hypocritical to go to the UN and make a wonderful speech about Gay Rights….and then CONTINUE TO ENFORCE DOMA (….stopped Defending, because the House of Reps is defending it)……he gaves us DADT….because they NEED SOLDIERS to fight this stupid wars….no choice….like in Vietnam, the soldiers were over-represented bby Blacks and Hispanics….smae philosophy, lets send some "faggots" to the front, and let them be killed defending "our" (evagelical people of course) rights.

    If Obama really care, he would have given all the bi-national couples visas, under some humanitarian clause, or find another legal way for him to give Visas.

    But politicians don't care.
    Your arguments were the same arguments I heard when I was younger, and Clinton was running for the second term….NOTHING happened……

    Short of an armed revolution….Stonewall 2 ….not sure what can galvanized us, "the faggots"…to FIGHT FOR OUR RIGHTS.

  • 9. Derek Williams  |  January 13, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Then vote for the Tea Party. Best of luck.

  • 10. Jacob Combs  |  January 14, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Saxophone, your comment has been deleted due to insensitive and vulgar language. Please refrain from using such language in the future.

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