In 1620, the Pilgrims left Leiden, where they had come to enjoy freedom of religious expression. In the face of economic hardship they encountered as immigrants in the Netherlands, they sailed on the Mayflower to Massachusetts.
The first place they put down anchor was the site of what is now Provincetown.
Nearly 400 years later, partners of gay and lesbian Americans are not welcome to immigrate to the United States. Many of us have come to the Netherlands or other countries to be with our partners in a country that accepts us and our relationships. Here we can create a new future for ourselves and enjoy freedoms we don't enjoy in the USA.
What we don't have is the opportunity to be with our families in the United States. And if we need to be in the U.S. for a longer period of time, for example to care for an elderly parent, we have to choose between being with our spouses/partners and being with our American families.
It's a unfair choice. It makes us second-class citizens.
Here are some stories of bi-national couples and how the lack of freedom to immigrate affects their lives and the lives of their families.
An American in Thailand: My parents are now in their eighties, and it's time for Tom and I to go care for them. What can we do?
Bob: I have a fuller life here than I could in the US, because of the rights and recognition that Dutch society affords us.
Donna in Belgium: I would like the same immigration rights as straight couples.
Claudia and Lynnette: The fact that Germany has legal rights for gay and lesbian couples has made it possible for us to start a life and future together.
Hélène fell in love with Karen and moved to the U.S. Since April 2001, she has been waiting for her labor certification. If it doesn't come in time, she will have to leave the United States.
Jenn: Jet-lagging, disillusioned, financially and emotionally scarred, we are arriving at the doorsteps of democracies which actually practice what they preach.
Jo: Faced with the choice of living apart or leaving my country of birth...
Karen and Hélène married in Gouda in 2002: "I've never been happier!"
Kirsten: I am grateful to The Netherlands for its immigration policy...
Lin emigrated halfway around the world to live in The Netherlands. 20 years later, she married Martha...
Martha came to The Netherlands in March 2000 to join her Australian partner Lin...
Robbie: Imagine having no freedom to return to your own country.
Susan: When we parted, we cried our eyes out. When we were reunited, it was sweeter than sweet…
And in the UK: I am forbidden by America to enter the supposed freest country in the world to maintain my relationship...
Looking for a home: from the US to Canada to the Netherlands.
From Germany: I am starting to doubt if I will ever be able again to visit the US and my partner’s family and friends.
© 2006 Stichting Love Exiles. All rights reserved.