Mel and Hans share a life in the East
Bay -- where they are surrounded by
friends, own a two-story home, have jobs
they love. But after 25 years together,
Mel, a U.S. citizen, still cannot sponsor
Hans, a Dutch citizen, for permanent U.S.
If they weren't gay, this would be easy.
U.S. citizens can sponsor their children,
parents and spouses as immigrants. In the
eyes of U.S. immigration law, Hans is none
of the above.
"You can pretend, in some ways, that when
you're gay and living in the Bay Area, you
have equal status with heterosexuals. That
is, until something as defined as this
comes along," says Mel, a 56-year-old
physical therapist. "You can really see the
lines drawn, and it's painful, the very
hypocrisy of it, the unfairness of it."
Hans, 44, moved to the United States in
1980 on a student visa. In 1996, by then a
clinical psychologist, he exhausted his
work visa. Now, he is here illegally, as
are many others in the same situation who
take extraordinary steps to keep their
status a secret.
Mel and Hans insisted that only their first
names be used for this article. Though
immigration officials haven't knocked on
their door, the two are careful. Air
travel, both foreign and domestic, is out
of the question.
"We are completely in limbo," says Mel. "On
one hand, the government says it doesn't
recognize your relationship -- you can only
sponsor your partner through marriage. On
the other hand, if I were to get married,
the government says it's not valid, because
we're gay. How can we win?"
Read full story, Gay Lives in Limbo, US
immigration laws leave binational couples
in the lurch" by Jose Antonio Vargas,
Chronicle Staff Writer, Sunday, January 11,
(Photo: by Chris Hardy, Chronicle. Mel
(left), a U.S. citizen, and Hans, a native
of the Netherlands, have been lovers for 25
years and share a home in the East Bay, but
under U.S. immigration law Mel cannot
sponsor Hans for permanent U.S. residency.)