Ayla and Connie
I met Ayla Yildirim on February 28, 2003. If I had to say what
immediately caught my attention, I would have to smile and say
it was it was her accent. The night we met at The Egyptian Club
in Portland, Oregon was the beginning of something new for both
of us. We talked and danced and got to know each other. As we
started dating, I realized that this was the woman that I had
been searching for. Her love and kindness filled a void in my heart that had been broken. Soon we began talking and making plans for a commitment ceremony and choose June 14, 2003, as our special day.
After asking me to marry her, Ayla said before I made that commitment that she had something to tell me. I could tell by her expression and the tone of her voice that it was serious. She told me she had come to the United States in 1989 from Turkey. She had been in the closet until 2001 and in 2002 filed for political asylum to remain in the United States. She told me that it would not be fair for me not to know her situation and was unsure if she would be able to remain here. She said I could just walk away and she would understand. I did not know much about immigration laws but knew that I loved her and did not want to end the relationship that we had started. I told her that we would fight this thing together and if ultimately she could not remain here that I would go with her.
It is now 2004 and we again made that commitment on March 12, 2004, when marriage licenses were being issued in Portland Oregon. On June 14, 2004, we celebrated our first anniversary of being married at the First Unitarian Church. I now know much more about the unfairness of our immigration laws and how difficult our fight is going to be but I am not giving up hope for her or us.
The one-year deadline to file asylum passed by Congress will
make it very difficult to win asylum in her case. Turkey is a
country very hostile towards gays and lesbians but the information
regarding persecution of lesbians in Turkey is practically nonexistent
making future persecution difficult to prove as
The psychological and financial burden this has placed in our
lives has been overwhelming. We dare not make any plans for the
long term future because we don't even know where our future will
be. We have so many dreams. Dreams of buying a home. Dreams of
starting a family. Dreams of Ayla going back to school but right
now these dreams are not possible. The tremendous injustice of
laws has made me very angry. I feel helpless and like a second class citizen.
While heterosexual US citizens can get married on a whim and even file a fiancee application for their foreign born partner, binational same-sex couples are not afforded this same relief. Ultimately binational couples are made to choose their own country, the country of their partner, or a safe third country that will allow both partners to emigrate.
Today I make a plea for the gay and lesbian community to support
families like ours and the thousands of others like us by calling
their representatives and senators to support PPIA (Permanent
Partners Act of 2003). This would allow US citizens to sponsor
their same-sex partners for immigration purposes. The injustice
in our immigration laws will not deter my support for my wife
or our life together. Time is a binational couples' best friend
and now is the time for change. My heart goes out to all of the
couples out there who are suffering the same cruel injustice and
sense of impermanence.