“I’m So Proud of My Two Sons,” A California Mother Speaks Out Against DOMA

Brandon with his mother, Gailya

When my son, Brandon, told me he was gay, I thought it was just a phase! He was about to begin his final semester of college and had been through some brief relationships with some (in my opinion) unsuitable girlfriends. I believed that when he got better about choosing girlfriends, he’d happily settle into his true, straight self.

But an odd thing happened. As Brandon became more comfortable with the idea of being gay, he became more comfortable in his own skin. He was happy – even exuberant, sometimes. He became more open with people, more reflective, more confident, and more spiritual. He developed a circle of friends who were unconditional in their support and he found that almost all of his old friends accepted and loved him, as well.

To see my son happy, truly happy in his new life was all I had ever wanted for him. That, and a happy, fulfilling relationship.

I remember the day he told me about Luke. He was almost giddy, describing their close friendship and how that friendship had blossomed into love. I had never seen him like this. Such joy. Such hope for the future.

I met Luke a few months after they started dating and liked him instantly. His personality has a brightness that complements my son’s intensity. He laughs easily and has a dry sense of humor that matches Brandon’s. They are easy with one another, and kind. They share a zest for life, a love of Manhattan and an artistic sensibility. Brandon had found a good match. Luke was soon like a son to me.

Luke is from South Africa. It soon began to dawn on me what that would mean for their future as the harsh reality of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act became bitterly clear. Luke’s immigration status in America was in jeopardy. And, even if he and Brandon were to marry, because of DOMA, there would be no legal protections afforded to him that would be available to Brandon’s sister and her husband, if they had been in a similar situation.   That parallel kept coming back to mind. Why should my children be treated differently by our government?

A little over a year ago, Brandon called me to tell me that he and Luke had decided to get married. My mind instantly went to “What will I wear?” But there was no time to linger on that thought because Brandon said they planned to marry that Saturday. It would be just the two of them – and their dog, Andrew. They wanted to save the big wedding with family and friends for a time when they could afford to do it in the style they both dreamed of. I would fly to New York from California. His sister would fly up from Georgia and his father from Texas and they would surround themselves with family and friends.

But they didn’t want to wait that long to get married. They went to Connecticut, one of the few states that recognizes gay marriage, for their wedding. It was clear to me that Brandon and Luke were deliriously happy, with one exception: they had this immigration thing hanging over their heads. Luke is even afraid to travel domestically, so Brandon splits his holidays – trying to make it to Georgia for a family Christmas a few days late or early so he can be with Luke on the actual holiday. If Brandon comes to California to see me, Luke stays back home in New York. I visit New York when I can. As a result, it has not been possible to all be together like a family, to fully integrate Luke into our lives as we would like to do. It is hard to understand why our government would continue to tear away at the fabric of American families like this. After all, this is not only about Brandon and Luke but about all of us who are treated like our families don’t count.

Luke has become very involved in raising awareness and fighting for equal rights for binational gay and lesbian couples. This has empowered Luke in such a way that he and Brandon have decided to go public with their story. Brandon has filed a green card petition for Luke on the basis of their marriage. Just taking this action has lifted their spirits. He and Brandon are hopeful that the time is right for this nation to face the cruel discrimination of DOMA and make it possible for any loving couple that chooses to marry to receive equal treatment under the law. I am so proud of my two sons.

I fully support Brandon and Luke in this fight, but I worry that they will be separated, or that, in order to stay together, Brandon will be forced to leave this country to be with his husband. That would break my heart because it would tear them away from us.

There is such ignorance and fear driving this terrible prejudice. In this difficult world, we find ourselves torn apart by small differences instead of embracing the common bonds we all share. Love is the supreme bond. We need it for our spiritual survival. We crave it for our happiness and fulfillment. And when any adult couple is lucky enough to find love together and they are willing to make a lifelong commitment, I believe that courageous act should be encouraged. They should not be treated as second-class citizens or ostracized because they happen to be of the same sex.

So, my dream for my son and his husband is that the discrimination of DOMA will end soon. My dream for them is that they will be free to build the kind of life together that is every couple’s dream. There will always be people who do not understand them. But lack of understanding is not justification for taking away basic human rights. I believe the law often has to step in before human understanding can be accomplished. The Civil Rights movement proved that. We are in a new era of civil rights struggles. It is my dream that equal marriage rights are just around the corner for Brandon and Luke. I will do what I can to help them achieve that dream by making sure that those who represent us and work for us in government know how American families are impacted every day by DOMA. They will all hear from me. I hope you will join us in this effort.

See Brandon’s post: “Can The U.S. Government Recognize True Love?” November 28, 2011.

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This is a pro-bono project of the law firm of Masliah & Soloway, PC. Posts on this website are offered for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. The law firm of Masliah & Soloway, PC has offices in New York and Los Angeles. Our practice is limited to U.S. Immigration & Nationality Law.