One Family Divided, Under Law
By Steve Ralls on 06/07/2011 @ 10:05 AM
In just one week, Bradford Wells could lose the person he built his entire life around.
Wells, an American citizen, has been with his partner Anthony Makk -- who is Australian -- for 19 years. The couple married in Massachusetts seven years ago. They have a built home, and a life, together in San Francisco. As Wells's health has declined, Anthony has become his primary caretaker, ensuring his husband makes his doctors' visits and takes his medication on time.
When it comes to U.S. law, however, none of that matters.
On June 13, Makk's visa will expire, and the couple will face heart-wrenching choices about the future. Unlike straight Americans, who have the ability to sponsor their spouse for residency, lesbian and gay couples in the same situation have few legal options for remaining together. Many are forced into exile, leaving the United States entirely. Others are forced apart, splitting their families. Of the more than 36,000 such couples, nearly half are raising young children -- themselves American citizens -- who face the very real possibility of losing a parent, or losing the only country they have ever called home.
For Wells and Makk, it could mean the end of two decades spent with only one goal: To live their lives together.