BY NOREEN FAGAN – Customs and immigration officials just love to give themselves a bad name. I respect them – they wear uniforms – but I do wonder how some of them got their jobs.
On Monday, March 28, US immigration officials declared that they would no longer automatically reject green-card applications from foreign spouses of gay and lesbian citizens.You mean queer families might be able to stay together in the US rather than immigrate to Canada? No: by Wednesday, March 30, immigration officials had reneged on the deal, saying they had not made any policy changes that would provide an opening for gay couples.
The confusion comes in the wake of US president Barak Obama's determination that the US Defense of Marriage Act – the 1996 law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages – is unconstitutional. In an unexpected shift, he directed the US Justice Department to stop defending the law in court.
That was on Feb 24 to be precise. Since then gays and lesbians in the US have had their hopes raised, raised a little bit more, then unceremoniously dashed.
I have a particular interest in the American flip-flop: my partner is a US citizen and I am, of all things, Zambian. We lived with our two sons in the US, waiting and hoping to be recognized in the same way heterosexual couples are. We weren't, and so, like so many other bi-national couples, we immigrated to Canada.
Canada's immigration and citizenship services can be annoying – activists had to fight to have gays and their rights included in the handbook for new immigrants, for example – but at least Canada is open to allowing bi-national couples to live and work here.
But if it were up to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, things might be different. Have you seen this video of Harper in 2005 at an anti-gay-marriage rally? Watch it. It will make you want to vote.