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Torn Apart: United by Love, Divided by Law

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  • Posted May 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Inspiring stories of couples separated by archaic law

    Thousands of same-sex binational couples are kept apart by U.S. immigration policies that don't just fail to recognize that two people of the same gender can have a positive, fulfilling and committed relationship, but actually target the non-citizen half of such couples as a security risk. Despite the work of activist groups such as Immigration Equality, Love Exiles and Out4Immigration, and numerous attempts by understanding elected representatives to push through legislation to eliminate this unfair policy, many couples have left the US to live in other countries, or to live nomadic lives traveling to a variety of countries, in order to avoid being split up.

    The book begins with a forward by Elizabeth Gilbert, celebrated author of "Eat, Pray, Love," who is happily married to a man from Brazil. She points out the hypocrisy that they never had a problem being together, since immigration law allows citizens to bring in their fiancés, citizens or not. The fact that same sex couples are denied similar treatment, simply because we don't have the option to marry under federal law, has made her an activist for a change in policy to eliminate this blatant discrimination, and inspired the author to tell her story.

    Judy Rickard and her partner Karin, a British citizen, have endured long separations and taken trips simply to be together as much as possible. She also introduces us to over a dozen additional couples with similar (and worse) stories, with tales of their partner being dragged from their home in the middle of the night, of forced, immediate deportations, living in exile to avoid prosecution, having to pay thousands in legal fees while fighting life-threatening illnesses, The book covers idiosyncrasies in existing rules for "green cards", student and work visas, binational citizenships, and humanitarian visas that work against same-sex couples. And it discusses how such couples may choose to arrange "sham" marriages to opposite sex partners, just to get the opportunity to be in the same country together.

    It's a powerful indictment of a legislative policy, formed in the name of homeland security that is running amuck and violating the basic rights of thousands of Americans. The book includes an extensive appendix of research sources, applicable legislative cites, proposed laws, and things you can do to help. All royalties from the book are being donated to lobbying groups involved in the effort. Not an easy read, but an important one. Five stars out of five.

    - Bob Lind, Echo Magazine

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