U.S. Customs continues to discriminate against same-sex couples

 

 

"Despite what people tell you about gay couples being able to get legal contracts to secure all the needed rights and protections, it is clear from what we experienced on Thursday that this is not true ... domestic partnerships are nothing more than cubic zarconia."
Davina Kotulski, after being refused entry under family status by U.S. customs.

 

 

Davina Kotulski and Molly McKay (Photo courtesy of the couple)
Davina Kotulski and Molly McKay

 

Link to Marriage Equality - California

 

 

Civil Marriage Trail 2004:  U.S. couples coming to Canada for same-sex marriage on Valentine's day.

 

 

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Adovcacy News - Domestic partners harrassed by U.S. Customs

February 3, 2004

Domestic partners harrassed by U.S. Customs

“Whenever we enter the U.S. we always approach with a sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs,” said Kevin Bourassa, one of the two men who were refused entry on September 18. “Today was one of those days when we felt an affront to our dignity as well as to our rights.”
Gay City News, September 19 - 25, 2003

"We were not going to divorce ourselves in order to enter a country."
Kevin Bourassa in The New York Times, September 19, 2003


Same-sex couple denied the right to enter the United States as a  familyWe last wrote about the discriminatory practices of U.S. Customs in October 2003, after we were refused entry (Sept. 18) into the States under family status. Same-sex couples continue to be mistreated when entering the U.S., as this report concerning an American couple details:

On January 30, 2004 upon their return from Thailand, domestic partners Davina Kotulski and Molly McKay were stopped by U.S. Customs at the San Francisco Airport and told that they were "not a family" and would not be able to pass through U.S. Customs until they completed separate forms as singles. The couple informed the U.S. Customs Officer that they were one of 22, 000 registered Domestic Partners in California and that they had their Power of Attorney, Advanced Health Care Directive, Wills, and Domestic Partner forms in their checked luggage to prove their relationship to one another. While the Customs Officer said he was sympathetic to their situation, he still denied them passage.

The couple requested to speak with the supervisor who stated, "family is blood, marriage or adoption only." McKay, a Bay Area attorney, noted to the supervisor that nowhere on the form was "family" defined. Kotulski inquired about what the policy was on same sex couples married in Canada, Belgium, or the Netherlands, or Vermont Civil Unioned couples. She was told that, "that has never come up here before" and was advised that "the United States does not recognize those relationships."

"Despite what people tell you about gay couples being able to get legal contracts to secure all the needed rights and protections, it is clear from what we experienced on Thursday that this is not true. All the expensive legal documentation and a state-wide domestic partnership registry cannot secure you the most basic right of being able to fill out one form together as a "family" at the U.S. Customs Line." said Davina Kotulski, Ph.D. "It was humiliating! This is more proof to me that anything less than marriage means second class status. I am grateful for Assembly member Mark Leno's new marriage bill, because domestic partnerships are nothing more than cubic zarconia."

"Bi-national couples fear this kind of discrimination from U.S. Customs regularly," said Belinda Ryan of Immigration Equality and advocate for the Permanent Partners Immigration Act. "They often will not even get off the plane at the same time to avoid being targeted by US Customs and Immigration officials who have the power to deport an immigrant partner as an "overstay risk" because they are in a same sex relationship."

"Molly and I have been together for 8 years, we've been registered domestic partners in the city of Oakland since 1998, registered California Domestic Partners since 2000, we own a home together, have a joint checking account and every conceivable legal document you can have, and have been to each other's family members' weddings, funerals, graduations, and holiday celebrations. If that is not a family, I don't know what is!" said Dr. Kotulski.


MailLink to our media coverage of related issues.