04 March 2008 ~ 0 Comments

The 'M' Word – Queer DREAMs Silenced in front of the California Supreme Court

The California Supreme Court heard arguments for gay marriage today, in a suit brought by some couples and the City of San Francisco against the State of California. The plaintiffs hold that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is unconstitutional on the basis of California gender and sexual orientation non-discrimination laws. The debate boils down to the "M" word, marriage — Is it constitutional to ban same-sex marriage but give same-sex couples all the rights of marriage (under State law, not federal)? Does that still meet the equal protection clause? Obviously not.

For queer DREAMers (yes there are some of us 'out' there), the basic right to 'marry' is yet another dream for us that has thus far been unrealized. Homophobic immigration laws forbid us from qualifying for marriage-based petitions. Even if all the states adopt civil unions and confer the same rights to same-sex couples as they do to heterosexual couples, we do not qualify for immigration benefits, since immigration law is under federal jurisdiction. WHAT possible legal rationale is there to deny two people who love each other to live together in a country without being burdened about their legal status? What does society gain from banning certain people the right to call their spouses "wife" or "husband" instead of "partner?" Can anyone justify why we are even arguing about this basic human rights issue without appearing bigoted?

Not being allowed to marry is a travesty, and for a queer DREAMer like me, it robs me of an opportunity to legalize my status. With a 245i, all I would have to do is marry my girlfriend, pay a fine, and go through the visa process. But without that right, I am continuously pressured by family into considering a "marriage of convenience," which besides being fraudulent, angers me beyond words. For my family, legalizing my status is more important than my need to roll around in bed with someone of the same sex. But it is not a compromise that I am willing to think about, let alone consider. Why must I make compromises with the most beautiful and intimate part of my identity to "get ahead" in life?

I am also often disappointed at the fragmented nature of the pro-migrant movement. I see the Human Rights Campaign pushing for the right of bi-national same sex couples to marry, for immigration equality. Then I turn around and see the bustling energy and enthusiasm of people at an immigrant and workers rights marches. And then we have a lot of DREAMers, who simply focus on the right to an education and somehow gaining legal status. I am all these fragments and much more, and I wish we could find a way to unite these fronts, because it would ultimately make us stronger.

And I won't feel so silenced when I want to talk about immigration equality for same-sex couples at a DREAM gethering.

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