Photo: Lisa McLaughlin
Now that I have been in Holland for nine years, I’ve settled in. I have a good job. As an international lawyer, I was able to expand into new fields that I didn’t even know existed before I came here. Rik has become a judge in the federal court in Rotterdam. We have married each other. We have a beautiful home and many friends. In fact, I have a fuller life here than I could in the US, because of the rights and recognition that Dutch society affords us. You don’t know how many rights you lack, until you get them.
Even so, it hurts that my own country has in some ways fundamentally rejected who I am. It hurts to be a second-class American citizen, deprived of the rights that my heterosexual US friends who live in Holland have. The “defence of marriage act” (which does quite the opposite) means that homophobia is America’s official policy. Because of it, Rik and I can only be tourists, at best, in my own land.
When I celebrated my 50th birthday last year, I started to think vaguely about retirement. I realized that I could never retire to America, close to the rest of my family, together with Rik, because he cannot get a residence visa. Admittedly, this is a something of a luxury problem, not comparable to illness or poverty. But, even so, the country that regards itself as the bastion of liberty has grievously reduced my civil rights. England, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Israel, Australia, South Africa, Canada and other countries have all adopted sane policies toward the legal rights of their gay citizens. Only the US remains in its macho state, forcing hundreds if not thousands of its citizens to live abroad as I must.
I can only hope that wise heads will prevail, and some day let me return home to live there together with Rik.