Saturday, May 22, 2010
Why (at least) one Madisonian has to leave the country to be able to live with her spouse
Joey Johannsen (left), a long-time Madison resident with friends and family in this part of the country, will soon be quitting the job she loves, selling her truck and her home and moving to Europe to be with her spouse -- Gabi Helfert, right. I wrote in this post last month about the marriage in Dubuque of these friends of mine (who met, indirectly because I posted a photo of a bridge on Flickr).
Not only does Wisconsin not recognize gay marriage, but neither does the federal government -- especially when it comes to immigration policy. If they were a heterosexual couple, Gabi could easily get a visa for living and working here. At the same time, their marriage is recognized throughout the European Union. It just isn't a problem there.
As it is, they communicate by Skype between visits and prepare for Joey to move to Rotterdam. Check out this article by Pat Schneider in today's online Capital Times. It discusses their situation, as well as the broader issue of passing immigration reform for gay couples. There's also a cool photo by Mike DeVries of the two of them teleconferencing by Skype.
Ideally, Gabi and Joey would be living in Madison, which they love. Gabi's English skills are better than Joey's Dutch (though she's working on it), and in moving to Europe, Joey would leave behind a lot more family members than Gabi would the other way around. But Joey is the one who has to move. It just doesn't seem fair.