In spite of being legally married in the U.S. State of Iowa, Inger Knudson-Judd and Philippa Knudson-Judd don’t get to spend much time together or with their 12 year old daughter. In fact, prior to this most recent 5 week visit, the couple hadn’t seen each other in 6 months. Why? The Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) allows the Federal Government to refuse to recognize Inger and Philippa’s marriage and Philippa is not a U.S. citizen. These stories are all too common.
In early April, 2012, five same-sex couples who are not able to obtain green cards for their foreign-born spouses filed a lawsuit challenging DOMA’s prohibitions against gay couples petitioning for legal status for their spouses. Victoria Neilson, legal director for Immigration Equality who is leading the charge, stated that their group has asked that the Obama Administration to change these policies, or at least suspend green card applications rather than rejecting them until DOMA challenges can be resolved. Neilson explained:
We have recently gotten a definitive no from the administration on that request, so we sort of feel like we’re at the end of the line on advocacy. Our next step is to take it to the courts.”
Which brings us to the photo. Yesterday, Inger had to drive her wife to the airport after a five week visit and they don’t know when they will next see each other. So when I opened my Facebook news feed, I saw this photo from Inger:
And my heart broke.
Via Wipe Out Homophobia on Facebook, Inger released this response:
We have a 12 year old daughter and so are trying to do things the legal way…, but [we] have hit road blocks every step of the way. *** It is really hard to hold your family when their hearts are breaking, my arms just aren’t that long. After 4 1/2 years of trying to find a solution, nothing has changed.
Some say that DOMA protects families, but does this family look protected? These are the faces of our families; this is the real suffering caused by discrimination.