Green Card Success!

Today, after five years and five months of praying, hoping, dreaming, wishing and planning, my Beloved was approved for his spousal-based green card. And while I will still be a little anxious until it physically arrives here in the mail (7-10 business days), I finally feel relieved – and renewed. We are, as couples in our situation sometime joke, no longer “waiting to exhale.” The last obstacle in our path to a long, bright, joyful future has FINALLY been removed. We have a destination ahead…

happyAs the final “test” in our journey, our personal interview was scheduled today for 12:45PM; less than one hour later, we were sitting in the car, Martin smiling from ear to ear and me sort of numb with happiness.

I had gone into the appointment “locked and loaded,” ready for anything. We had in tow our AWESOME attorney, Stacy Cozart of the Cleveland firm Sharon & Kalnoki; Martin and I were in our best business casual attire and I was carrying not one but TWO accordion files full of documentation, photos and other forms, paperwork and receipts. If I am being honest, I also walked in today with 5+ years of pent-up frustration and anger at our ridiculous immigration laws, the emotional baggage of nights/weeks/months spent crying missing Martin while we were apart, a logjam of emotions about the injustice of our situation and – no offense to Catholicism – pretty much an “expect-the-worse-but-hope-for-the-best” frame of mind and attitude.

stacks of papersAs it turns out, I didn’t need most of what I had brought – especially the attitude…

Our interviewer was gracious and respectful. He seemed unfazed by the whole same-sex couple thing and was very professional. He asked the pertinent questions, shared a few stories and asked us for some and, the whole time, seemed genuinely interested in us “succeeding” in our application. Stacy was definitely a comforting presence, and I won’t lie – Martin and I are a pretty squeaky-clean couple, so we weren’t too worried about our application. At least Stacy and Martin weren’t too worried. Me? It’s my JOB to worry.

I was worried that we might not find out the decision in our case till a day or so from today but when I saw the examiner whip out that big old APPROVED stamp, I could not have been happier. He stamped a LOT of pages, congratulated and welcomed Martin, told him to expect his green card in 7-10 business days, shook our hands and wished us well. I did my best not to cry in his office – I made it to the outer hall before five+ years of pent-up emotions all just sort of rushed out. Martin squeezed my hand; Stacy told me not to cry but to celebrate and go have a drink for her (she had to get back to the office to go to a funeral).

Men Shaking HandsAnd so there we were, my beloved Martin and I, sitting in the car. It was over. It was an odd moment for me – I was happy beyond measure but, I guess, at the same time, I never expected it would happen so softly and quietly. I suppose I was waiting for glitter cannons and a ticker tape parade but, at the end, it was just the man I loved and me, as it often has been and always will be.

Don’t get me wrong – we could have NEVER gotten here without the love and support of our friends. I would like to mention everyone by name, but you know who you are. Martin and I have so many friends and supporters locally, as well as online friends we have never even met. We have made so many amazing friends, some of whom are still apart, some of whom are “in process” and some of whom are still waiting to exhale. I am personally committed to remain involved with LGBT immigration reform till ALL our friends are where they want to be…

I also want to mention a few great organizations that helped us. I would like to begin with Out4Immigration, an all-volunteer organization with whom I volunteered for a number of years. Martin and I have made a LOT of great friends thru that group, and Out4Immigration provided invaluable assistance and guidance along every step of our journey. I would also like to thank Lavi Soloway, partner in Masliah & Soloway, the founders of The DOMA Project. His/their groundbreaking work not only inspired us in our own journey but continues to help binational same-sex couples like us come together. And finally, mad love and respect to our own hometown law firm of Sharon & Kalnoki. The amazing Stacy Cozart, in partnership with her uber-assistant Magda Vlcek, brought us home safely and “sealed the deal” (and held MY hand thru the whole process – those ladies are incredible!)

trophies

And so, now a new chapter begins for Martin and me. If our lives are like a novel, we have committed several chapters to “setting it all up” – now we are ready for the story to get good and we are definitely ready for the “happily ever after” part to begin. We are well on our way…

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