On June 29, 2006 I boarded a flight to New York’s LaGuardia Airport that would completely change my life. It was not my first trip to New York, but it was my first solotrip. I thought that I may be a little crazy for arranging this trip, but I’m a scientist and a bit of a planner. There is always a Plan B and I will always find a solution.

A few months earlier, several months into my Match.com membership, I had entered a friend’s New York zip code in the search window. One of the very first profiles caught my attention—Asian guy, blue eyes. I have always been drawn to those things that are out of the ordinary. I quickly sent a message, probably something about they eyes, but I don’t really remember.

Later that day, much to my surprise, the blue-eyed Asian boy had replied to my message. We struck up a correspondence that soon moved to video chat – where I learned that the blue-eyed Asian boy looked EXACTLY like his profile!Well, except the eyes…it never occurred to me that people wear colored contacts, but it did not matter.We were finally talking, not just typing, and our first video chat lasted several hours.

Valentine’s Day 2013 marked more than 2,000 days since Jay’s work visa expired and he had to leave the US.

Over the next few months our friendship grew and we began planning a visit. Being a teacher, I had two months vacation, but Jon had just two weeks. We decided to spend a week together in New York at his apartment and I made the flight to LaGuardia. We had agreed to meet at his job, my Plan B being I would go stay with friends if our first meeting in person turned out not to be all that I had anticipated from the months getting to know each other online.

Standing on the sidewalk, in front of Jon’s office building, I nervously dialed his number.I saw a familiar face approach the revolving door, he walked down the steps, gave a big hug, and we had our first kiss. Everything was strangely familiar — we knew a lot about one another from our daily conversations, but had never so much as touched. Nonetheless, I felt as if I had come home after a long trip — my heart felt a great sense of comfort.

The week went by quickly and comfort grew into anxiety as the 4th of July approached—I was going home the following morning. I often wondered how I would know when I fell in love. Although there are many people that I love and care about, what I experienced with Jon was different. Being with him was home. I had found my life partner, and there is no other way to explain it, I simply knew it.

Throwing all caution to the wind, I confessed to Jon that “. . .this may sound completely ridiculous, but I’m falling in love with you.”Thankfully, he did not run! We have been together ever since.

Over the next year and a half we scheduled trips between our respective cities every three weeks.Our daily video sessions grew to include watching TV together, just like my parents have done for the last 40 years. The only difference was that our recliners were in different cities.

One year later, the day before my birthday, I had boarded my flight back to Miami when my phone rang. It was Jon and he was devastated. “I just received a letter and it says that my work visa was not renewed. I have 30 days leave.”

My heart literally sunk.

I quickly shifted into survival mode, calmly responding that we would “figure this out.” That flight to Miami turned out to be infinitely longer than any of my 24+ hour flights to Asia would be over the next several years.

Valentine’s Day 2013 marked the 2033rdday that we have spent trying to “figure this out.” The only thing that stands in our way is a law that does not consider our seven-year commitment equal to my sister’s two- year marriage to her husband.

We are thankful and very fortunate to have two loving and fully supportive families. We have three nephews and a niece that do not know of time when Jon and I were not together. They know that Uncle Eric and Uncle Jon love them and spoil them every chance they get. Our relationship is not odd or unusual to them. What is odd is that we cannot live together—try explaining that to an eight year old! They know that I will be in Asia during the summers and oftentimes we will miss holidays and birthdays while we travel to be with one another.

Well-meaning friends often ask “Why don’t you get married in [New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington or Washington DC]?” Few realize that marriage in those states will only resolve a few state issues. Unfortunately, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) exclusively withholds 1,138 federal rights from same-sex couples, including immigration.

We are hopeful that comprehensive immigration reform will include binational LGBT families. Including the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would simply acknowledge us as a family and provide the means for us to finally live together. The alternative is to live in exile and leave my family, friends, career, and life that I have built over the last 39 years behind.

We ask all our friends, family, colleagues and allies to help us and other same-sex binational couples. Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, ask to speak with your senators/representative, and encourage them to include the UAFA as part of comprehensive immigration reform. If it is easier, you can email your senators at http://www.senate.gov and representatives at http://www.house.gov.

Forward this story and the others on the Out4Immigrationblog to your network and ask that they do the same.  

Are you a same-sex binational couple? Do you have families / friends affected by this issue? Please contact us at http://bit.ly/O4ICountMeIn if you are interested in sharing your story.