Thursday, August 31, 2006

Celebration!


Tomorrow morning Emilio and I will be driving up to Boston for the wedding of our dear friends Ping and Ron. They have two days of dinners and parties and a beautiful wedding planned.

We're very excited for this day to come. We watched their relationship turn from being co-workers, to friends, to dating, moving in together, moving to California and now getting hitched in Ping's home town of Boston.

I look forward to seeing Emilio teaching all the women his latin dances, he's always a hit at these events.

I hope everyone out there has a terrific labor day weekend.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Immigration US vs Canada


I saw a wonderful article in the Chronicle Herald about how Atlantic Canada is seeking immigrants. Now I contrast this with the nightly damning of immigrants on the US media outlets. You have assholes like Pat Buchanan and Joe Scarborough talking about how the vile criminal immigrants are the cause of every problem in the US. They pull out one off incidents of immigrants committing crimes and use a broad brush to paint all as criminals.

Imagine that, Canada actually celebrates diversity while a major part of Americans spits on it.

America has an identity crisis. It does not value it's immigrants nor does it celebrate the vital role immigrants provide. It's just one more thing I have in common with Canada. We love our immigrants.

From the article:

"He said Atlantic Canada receives only a small proportion of people who choose to call Canada home, while most settle in what he called MTV land — Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

To counter the trend, Mr. Kelly said, businesses have to be encouraged to hire immigrants and Halifax has established a labour force diversity plan to help reverse that trend.

"We want healthy, viable and vibrant communities," he said. "That’s the goal, and encouraging inclusion and diversity is a big part of reaching that."

Dixie Chicks - Not Ready to Make Nice


Emilio posted this song for me. It's become my mantra lately. This whole CD is fantastic. Emilio bought it for me and the songs really speak to me. If you need to let off some steam, get in your car blast this song and sing at the top of your lungs. It worked for me!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Anniversary and Apathy


We have reached the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and an entire section of our nation is still in ruins. I am amazed at the complete incompetence of our government.
I think the American public is overloaded with one dismal failure after another from the Bush administration, to the point we have reached apathy. Americans simply cannot fathom the amount of wrong done over the last 5 years let alone stand up united to do something about it.

It started with the failure to protect us on 9/11 and went downhill from there. Our government is being run by people who openly state they hate government. It's no wonder we have Iraq, Guatanamo Bay, Abu Gharaib, War Profiteering, Afghanistan (again being run by the Taliban), Osama Bin Ladin still free, Outing of a CIA agent, attacks on our civil liberties and personal freedoms. Our very own Vice President is making millions on our war in Iraq. The sneaky bastard didn't sell all of his stock in Halliburton, he sold only his vested stock. The president's father is also a war profitteer through the Carlisle Group.

The final straw was our government allowing our very own citizens to drown and millions of people homeless because they are incompetent idiots pretending to lead our nation.

We no longer elect leaders, we elect the person the majority of citizens would enjoy having a beer with at a BBQ.

What politician today will be written about in "Profiles of Courage" in the future. My guess is Russ Feingold, but the Dem leadership would never allow him to be the Presidential candidate.
It leaves me a cold feeling about the future of the US.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ask and You Might Receive


In the comments section about gay friendly car manufacturers, Gito mentioned already having a Honda and I recommended contacting them about the issue. This reminded me of something I did back in 2003.

Emilio lost his job in 2002 and for 18 months he was not allowed to work until INS (now ICE) did something wrong and we were able to secure a work permit for him that we renew every year. During this entire time Emilio was not covered under any medical insurance. I feared he would be injured and knowing the costs of healthcare here, it would wipe us out.

I happened to be asked by my employer to join a question and answer session about human resources. I work for a very large US corporation.
There I was sitting next to my new boss who was carrying her "Jesus Loves You" key ring and I was feeling a bit intimidated.

At the end of the session I was able to break free and approach one of the people running the seminar. I briefly explained my need to have medical coverage for Emilio. She was very understanding.

The following week they made domestic partnership benefits a company wide addition to the medical coverage. It was a huge relief for us.

Sometimes you just have to be the one to ask for something and that simple act can help yourself and so many others.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Support Those That Support Us


One of the things I take seriously is buying from sources that support not just our family, but my political ideology.

Now that I have caught the "new car fever". I realized I must take a whole bunch of manufacturers out of the car buying decision. Gay Wheels provides a list of car companies that do not support gay families by not providing domestic partnership benefits. The list of the non supporting manufacturers is below.

Acura
Hyundai
Mini
BMW
Infiniti
Nissan
Honda
Kia
Suzuki

Some of these same manufacturers even have the nerve to advertise in GLBT publications.

Emilio and I also use Buy Blue to determine where we will and will not shop. For example, we no longer shop at The Home Depot because of their almost exclusive contributions to the Republican party and donation to Bush's Innauguration. Our once favorite fast food indulgence Wendy's are completely off limits as well. I buy gas almost exclusively at Hess because they are the only political left gasoline provider.

Basically we will shop at any place that leans left or at the very least gives equal to both major political parties.

It simple, just make sure your dollars go where your votes go.

P.S. The Mazda 5 is a no go for me. It's definitely not a car for tall people. The search continues....

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Importance of Marriage


An article in Newsday discusses the death of a lesbian and her partner of 18 years who is banned from a wrongful death lawsuit against the man that struck and killed her partner.

"Citing previous court decisions, (Judge) Palmieri ruled that Saegert was not eligible because of existing law that makes "a legal distinction between same-sex partners and heterosexual spouses." He noted that the state Appellate Division has ruled that "a same-sex partner, as executor, has no standing to sue in wrongful death on the partner's own behalf."

This brings back memories for me in the aftermath of 9/11. Surviving gay partners were blocked from any assistance from organizations that provided financial aid based on the fact that are not legally family. It was the most vile form of prejudice at a time when we all needed to be one American family.

When discussing marriage equality and immigration equality with people like my neighbors or the woman that cuts my hair (Or anyone who will listen, sometimes to Emilio's chagrin). I explain the importance of being the legal next of kin to our partners, without this we have no leg to stand on for any right or privilege that protects our family. One thing I always stress in my conversations is that Emilio and I are a family, not merely legal domestic partners.

Recently I went to the Doctor's office and the nurse was asking me why my back was out and I explained it was due to stress. She asked what I was stressed about and I told her about recent life events and our personal story including our immigration issues.

Now I can tell she was uncomfortable with my sexuality, but her response was empathetic. To paraphrase her she said "people have simply taken things too far both on the left and right, we need a balance and fairness for people like you".

I could have been upset about the "...people like you part", but I was elated that she understood why we need to be legal next of kin. I hope she remembers me when she is in the voting booth.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I Wish I were more like Em...

From Emilio:
Today I have been reading some of the blogs that we frequent. One in particular ”Life Without Borders” had me thinking when Nick spoke about leaving behind relationships with people that in one way or another make our lives rich.

Yes it is true I am going to miss the family that has accepted me here and friends we made in the time I have been here, and those who I left years ago in my country who I still miss since the day I left, also, I didn’t realize before that I would miss all those people that came to me looking for help, understanding or just somebody who hears them. Those relationships that taught me life has a human side.

I am not a social worker like Nick, but I have socialized my work. I manage an employment agency for temporary workers where the majority are immigrants just like me. During the three years working there I have seen people come and go, but some people have touched me in a really positive way and I feel honored. People have seen me as role model.

I chat a lot with my workers (Productos) those are the people that I offer to my customers. I give them a guidance about my modest experience as an immigrant. Like the majority of them, I also had to work very hard. I don’t feel like a hero about this, perhaps I am just exploring my teaching side.

These are the people I will miss and will remember, asking myself what will happen to them.

Tom says “I wish I were more like Em. Nothing seems to phase him”. I don’t fight for things where I have no power. I don’t waste time with that. When I left Venezuela they stamped my passport that says “immigrant”. By the time I got used to it I never thought of the luck I would find in a foreign land. I never thought I would meet my “Blue Prince” in the end of my journey. I was conscious of my adaptability and capacity to work, I think they are my most important virtues. Today I am wondering how our life will be in Canada? I know since we got the possibility to go there that I have been placing in a bag our dreams, plans and objectives and over all of this our feeling of freedom. What ever we find there is something I truly am sure about : I love you Tom!

The Tragic News Cycle

I was trying to think about something important to write about today. Every time I put on the TV or search for news I am seeing JonBenet Ramsey's suspected murderer has been captured.

I realize how completely sickening the US news cycle has become. We literally ignored Iraq and the 3500 civilian deaths that happened there in July and half of August because it was Israel and Hezbollah every day, every hour.

Don't get me wrong. It is tragic what happened to that six year old girl 10 years ago, but to run 24 hour news on the subject for probably what will be the rest of this week is sickening.

I decided to check out Unicef to find the tragic facts we never hear about on US news shows about preventable death of children on our planet.

If my calculations are correct from the Unicef statisitcs 2,780,000 children die each year of preventable illness. That is 2,780,000 JonBenet Ramseys not important enough for our media to acknowledge or important enough for our rich nation to save.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Through thick and thin

A documentary about the immigration struggle of gay and lesbian couples in America


Reluctant Activist



Last night Emilio was searching around the net and found an article on Gay.Com referencing us. It's always a pleasant surprise to see our story out there being used to make people aware of binational gay couples. The director (Sebastian Cordoba) of the documentary we have been taking part in must have decided to speak about us during the interview. We are honored our story was chosen.

I am also extremely proud of my parents, my brothers, and their wives and children, and my cousin and her son for taking part in the documentary over the holidays. We are truly fortunate to have such loving people in our lives.

Our reluctant activism began back in 2003. A friend of ours Andres refered us to a Spanish newspaper in NYC called Hoy. We were interviewed and our picture made it into the paper discussing the immigration issue from a gay couple's perspective.

From that experience we were emboldened to do more. We joined Immigration Equality and through their efforts we were interviewed by a journalism major at Columbia for her thesis and an Article in the Washington Blade . We also have been interviewed by Human Rights Watch for their report, which we hope will help Congress to understand our issues. Finally, last week a TV show opportunity came about. I am sure I am leaving something else out and Emilio will remind me later.

The main reason I mention all this is because my Emilio is so very brave for standing up next to me and taking part in all these things. You see, doing all of this public activism could jeopardize his asylum case. We run everything past our attorney, but as she always tells us it is not the safest route to take.

We are essentially homebodies and live a fairly unremarkable life, however the moto we have accepted to obtain equality is: "The squeeky wheel gets the grease".

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Stress


Lately we have been under a great deal of stress. A month ago we decided to put our house up for sale because we feared the market was declining too quickly and we didn't want to loose the equity in our home. We need the cash to start our new life in Canada.


A miracle of sorts ocurred. We found a young couple that wants to buy our home and is willing to wait until we are ready to leave for Canada next year. It's a win/win situation, but a scary chance to take. What if the market really crashes, what if they lose their jobs, what if, what if......I think I am driving Emilio crazy with my worries.


During this same exact time period a very serious medical problem happened to my Mom. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately it was found early and it seems she will be just fine. I am so grateful for modern technology and early detection.
Tell every women you know to get mamograms every single year.


Emilio and I are very close to my family. We spend more time with them than anyone else in our lives. This medical scare made me completely aware that we will be far away and not be in the position to provide on hand comfort and support as we do now. I have never even lived outside of New Jersey and never lived more than an hour from my family. It really hit home over this last month.

Beyond all that I realize one year is going to fly by and we have already started preparing. We put our biggest luxury up for sale. Our 1993 Cutlass Supreme Convertible with only 64K miles on it. We both really love the car and use it only in the summer, but common sense says we cannot move with it and we have to cut back on non essential expenses.

I am thinking of getting one of these since my car is already 7 years old and not worth importing.

Do you think a 39 year old gay man with no kids yet will look ridiculous in a Mazda 5? Is it too minivan looking? I think it would be really practical, plus a great vehicle for when people come to visit us.


I wish I were more like Em. Nothing seems to phase him. He's very even tempered and the calmest person I have ever met. I guess my insanity is one of the things he loves about me. I hope so.

Enough of my complaining for today. I just needed to vent a little. Life goes on, keep looking forward.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Spending time exposing religious based bigotry

One of the things I spend a good deal of time doing is going onto Faith and Religion forums and talking about religious based bigotry.

Religious based bigotry is exactly the reason our families and all GLBT families are in the peril forced upon us. The common denominator always seems to end up being their faith tells them we don't deserve equality because their version of God says so.

Well that simply is an unacceptable burden to impose on people. Religion is a choice, our sexual orientation is not. It's an uneven playing field. Our secular nation never should impose the heavy hand of religious preference upon the entire populace. Our constitution should protect us from it. (Amendment I - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.)

I've changed a few minds, but many conservatives will never get it. The one thing they all seem to agree on is that we deserve the right to sponsor our partners for immigration. Now if only I could get my neocon Congressman Scott Garrett to agree and sponsor the bill. You can't win them all. He's one of those that will never get it. I hope I make his life miserable with my scathing letters to the editor in our local newspaper. It's not very difficult to expose hypocrisy, especially in the form of religious based bigotry wrapped up in a pretty bow and called someone's faith.


The best weapon is knowledge. If someone is claiming you are going to hell, you might as well give them hell.

I find this source extremely valuable when debating against religious based intolerance.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Court for the Binational Couple

Going to court as a binational gay couple is a lesson in humility. Emilio and I have been going to court just about every six months for three years now. The first few court dates were completely terrifying. We thought he would be immediately detained or deported.

The reality is the bureaucracy of the Federal government is mind numbing. The paper filing, affidavits, finger printing (three times and counting), going over dates, times and stories covering a lifetime are tedious necessities.

The most hurtful part of being in court is the complete disrespect for us in terms of being a couple. The government of the United States does not recognize us as anything but complete strangers despite that fact that we own a home together, have completely meshed finances and a NJ Domestic Partnership granting us next of kin status within the borders of our state.

When we arrive in court it is made clear to us our love and committment to each other has no bearing whatsover in the decision to allow Emilio to stay here. The person who sleeps next to Emilio every single night merely is an inconvenience to our national government. It's beyond sad, it's pathetic.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

This man represents what is wrong with the US

The below letter was sent from one of our crazy fundies regarding the TV show Cold Case. He represents the majority (as he puts it) of people who are running this country.

Now this idiot sat down with his children to watch Cold Case. A show that is about missing people who more often than not are the victims of violence. The American Taliban, as represented beautifully by this maniac, are not upset that their kids will see tens of thousands of murders on TV by the time they reach adulthood. They are upset that a show will have the gall to depict GLBT people in a loving and caring fashion.

These fools already run the entire federal government and look what that has done to the country. I will never understand human beings that would rather use their religion as a weapon. From my point of view this man is no different than any other religious extremist in the world.

Sadly, his children's generation will be paying a great price for the phony "Christian Heritage" he so proudly hails. There is nothing Christ-like in his letter or his thinking.

Source:

"This is not your typical newsletter from Outsidepride.com, Inc. In fact, this is the first one in six years which is not business related. I apologize for cluttering your inbox with an unsolicited email; however you are free to unsubscribe just by clicking the link at the bottom

.I want to share with you my television viewing experience the other night on prime time television. I ask those of you who agree with me to go to www.cbs.com and go to the bottom of the page, click the feedback link and express your opinion. I know the vast majority of you will agree with me as all polls indicate. We are the majority, not the minority as the liberal media would lead you to believe.

My wife and I sat down to watch television the other night with our children. Cold Case was on which is normally a fairly enjoyable show to watch; however, the last half hour of the show dealt with a young man who wished he had asked his male friend to come with him (long story short). The show ended with the two men hugging and obvious intimation they had discovered their gay feelings towards each other. The very next show was Without A Trace. The whole last half hour of this show was about two lesbians who were struggling with their feelings of lesbianism. It ended with full acceptance from one father and the two lesbians making out. Yes, they were kissing right at the end of the show on public prime time television. So much for wholesome family television

Now, I am NOT trying to bash homosexuals and I am not a bigot; however, I feel homosexuality is morally wrong and should not be "promoted" as what is the norm for society. Text books are being rewritten as I am writing this to "highlight" every homosexual who has made a contribution to society. There are teachers who have been asked to make sure students know that, "This person in history was a homosexual." History is being rewritten to promote homosexuality and prime time television is doing its best to make homosexuality a "normal" behavior. If homosexuality was the norm, civilization would have ceased to exist thousands of years ago. Procreation takes a man and a woman. There was Adam and then there was Eve, not Adam and Steve.

There are literally tens of thousand of you reading this email right now. If you are tired of the way public television is going let CBS know! It will only take about 1 minute of your time. Again, just go to www.cbs.com and click the feedback link at the bottom. It is time the majority speak up and not let the minority run this country. The majority can bring back the Christian heritage this country was founded on because it is, "In God We Trust."

Thank you for your time,
Troy HakePresidentOutsidepride.com, Inc.

Changing the Course

Yesterday Ned Lamont beat Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary. I see there is some hope for this country because Lamont is far more progressive than Joe Lieberman. Blue states need to elect blue politicians. We're far less into the "group" think that you see in other parts of the county. Which is great for those of us who live here in terms of respect of diversity, but it means we elect different stripes of politicians and the balance of power stays to the right.

This year I am not only figthing Republicans, but also Democrats. The sad reality is only two Dem Senators have publically claimed to support Marriage equality. (Feingold and Kennedy). If Lamont wins in November that will make three.

I keep hearing on the news that the war is the only reason for the Lamont victory in CT. It is simply untrue because Lieberman also has made some pretty horrible anti gay statements and found himself on the wrong side of the Terry Schiavo fiasco. It is really a combination of allowing himself to be used by the Republicans as fodder against progressive ideas on a myriad of issues.

I look at Lieberman as pitiful now. He wants to run as an Indie and be a spoiler. Democracy worked yesterday, there was a primary and he lost. Get over it Joe!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Day One

I chose to start this blog today because I have followed the stories of other people who have decided to leave the US for greener pastures in Canada. Their blogs have provided comfort to me and allowed me to see what we can expect in the year ahead.

Background: My name is Tom. I met Emilio in late 2001 in NYC. Our first date was on 1/13/02 at the VIP diner in Jersey City, NJ (Interesting fact: you can see this diner in the Sopranos episode where Chris is having sex with Juliana Marguiles' character in the parking lot).

We knew from the start it was the beginning of something special. We just fit together and are still madly in love. We moved in together 6 months after our first date. We bought a fixer upper and worked our butts off. In 2004 we sold that home and bought a house up in rural NW NJ where we currently live.

It never ocurred to me that my government would try to separate me from the person I love most in this world. This link explains why:
http://www.throughthickandthin.net/tomemilio.html

We've been to federal court more times then I care to remember dealing with his work sponsorship and also trying to obtain asylum. We've spent $15,000 on lawyers and fees.

In January we finally woke up. We were watching the debates on HR 4437 over Christmas and began discussing the implication with our family over the holidays. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HR_4437 We were angered that the government was not only seeking to separate us, but now politicians wanted the power to jail us and take all of our assets. It was the last straw. We began the process of applying for residency in Canada and completed the package in February and received our AOR (Acknowlegment of Receipt) on February 27th, 2006.

We're planning on settling in Nova Scotia. We've never been there, nor can we travel outside the US together, but people who have been there told us it is a great fit for us. We'll have to wait and see.

Tom