|a symbol of the vows we took on May 12, 2007|
In the days leading up to Valentine's Day, there tend to be lots of events and lively public discussion about marriage. For example, today is National Marriage Day, and there is a growing international movement to make the week surrounding February 14 International Marriage Week, a week to celebrate marriage and promote its health and survival. In fact, last year several Congressmen in the House of Representatives spent 45 minutes reinforcing the benefits of marriage and the need for a National Marriage week. During that time, they said things like the following:
"...It should always be our goal to keep that family unit together, and to hold that bedrock of our society together...And this is something that we can build on that will benefit our society." ~Rep. Gregg Harper
"National leaders should be encouraging stable family formation, not redefining marriage. I call upon Congress to recognize the intrinsic good that results to all of society when husbands and wives strive to uphold their marriage vows and raise children in loving and stable homes." ~Rep. Doug Lamborn
So Congress, for over five and a half years, my husband and I have been striving to uphold the marriage vows we declared in English and Spanish before God, our parents, siblings, and other dear family members and friends in Illinois. Sometimes this meant staying true to each other and supporting each other across borders. Sometimes it has meant leaning on each other as we attempt to bring up a family in a totally foreign culture. It meant living some of our most precious family moments through Skype, including our son's birth, birthdays, Father's Days. For these five and a half years, it has meant constantly weighing our individual needs against the long-term survival of our family unit, and choosing to sacrifice accordingly. We've done all we can to keep our family intact. And it has been painful and difficult, all because of the challenge of having one member of our family legally forbidden from entering my country for the rest of our lives. So Reps. Harper and Lamborn, we could really use voices like yours, who are so passionate about the benefits of marriage, to also defend our marriage when it comes to laws passed in your halls.
|Family time, the legal way, 2008|
"And let me just say, as a government as well, marriage is a big deal to us because there's a direct correlation: The weaker our families are, the more government has to stand up and provide services. The stronger our families are, the less there is a need for government. You'll see it in law enforcement. You'll see it in social services. You'll see it in food stamps. On and on and on, the stronger our families are, the less government we need. And as our families collapse, we have an acceleration of government to try to fill in the gaps. It is this uniting aspect of our culture--white, black, Latino, Asian, American Indian, every race, faith. Family is the key, and marriage is the essence of that." ~ Rep. James Lankford
So this week, as so many celebrate love, or make frustrated declarations related to the lack thereof in their lives, I am immensely grateful that I have not only been blessed with a lifelong partner, but that I also have the ability, at the moment, to live in the same country with him. Still, our children's long-term livelihood and our own economic stability are in peril as long as laws remain on the books that force me to choose between my country and the man I promised to spend my life with. A government that values marriage should not be permitting laws that leave responsible, caring, morally upstanding people in separate countries from their US citizen spouses and children with no way to work towards returning to them.
|We are among these US citizen-immigrant families, |
sticking it out despite the legal obstacles