So here’s the missing piece of our story that we’ve been unable to tell up until now (AND THIS IS THE SHORT VERSION!).…
Back in 2010, we decided to take our relationship further. At the time, we were not married and wanted to pursue LEGAL way to reside together than have a relationship across an ocean. Sam would move his business here. He sold house (very quickly- in less than week), left his country, came and to the US to live with Gary under the sincere belief that he was “in the system” . We were told we were due to have an interview to receive his visa at any moment. The delay (so we were falsely told) was due to a backlog in the already slow and overburdened bureaucratic system that is USCIS. (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). For over two years Sam traveled back and forth to the UK, sometimes we did together or Gary would visit him already there, but every 3 months it was done to ensure he did not violate the visa waiver program while we waited. Each time Sam went and came back, he was under the belief that customs was aware of his application, carried a letter from our attorney should they question his frequent travel, and that he had nothing to worry about.
By July of 2011, we had known for a long time we would get married one day. But we knew we couldn’t. The visa was taking a long time and we felt a need to make our commitment more “official”, if only just for us. We secretly planned to be married so it would not “take away” the experience later on (we even asked the lawyer if it was OK). Other than the two of us, one friend would know and be our witness. As summer went on Gary’s father became ill. After several short stays in the hospital his situation worsened in August. We decided we best reschedule. Gary’s father passed away on September 29; what we had originally scheduled as our wedding day. In November we decided to reschedule. What was originally to be something just for us, we decided to share for a variety of reasons. Within 4 days we we were happily married and had the best “reception” at the house.
A fluke encounter by 3 people all in one week tipped Gary off that something was wrong.While Sam was in the UK in October 2012, he discovered the unimaginable- we were devastated. The lawyer was not only suspended from the day we started to work with her , was still under suspension the entire time (subsequently she had no malpractice insurance). She faked emails and documents and information requests from the government that was causing the delay. Gary did not tell Sam what he found out (after consulting with Sam’s family) until he arrived back here. It was good he did not as it was that return visit in October 2012 that Customs told him they did not believe he was waiting, but working here illegally.
How could we not have thought something was wrong prior? One, the fraudulent lawyer is the best friend of one of Gary’s colleagues (a friend we were so close with, they came to our “reception”. She did just not “refer” us to lawyer friend but transferred documents, made and took calls for us about it; was involved in entire process). Other people had told us of similar delays and given the connection of a friend, similar stories, why would one doubt? A search online years ago showed nothing. That is because it takes a certain amount of time before the bar association posts the information online (and what Gary did find was minimal but said enough). The online search following a weekend flight to London- by 4AM next morning Gary had found what his “gut feeling” was telling him for the 8 hour flight back. It was confirmed with one phone call. It was a long week of avoiding Sam via Skype with excuses why he could not talk with him. One “look” or word from Gary , he would know something was wrong.
We realized that over two years of frustration, anxiety, uncertainty and heartache had all been for nothing. All the money we had spent, all the earnings Sam had lost, the fact that he had sold his house on the advice of this fraudulent woman, hit us hard. There were times in the months after that we came close to giving up our fight altogether, because of her. Sam’s belongings are STILL stuck (cleared to leave for United states) in UK customs because of this woman’s fraudulent activity. He is paying monthly to have them hold it, but it is unable to be sent here because of her actions, yet he is unable to claim them because he can not leave the US now. (Imagine on top of it all, for now almost thee years, Sam does not have any personal belongings with him besides what was in a suitcase!)
We didn’t know what to do, or where to turn. Luckily we were able to find new legal counsel, who helped us to submit our green card application, based on our marriage in 2011 (Our marriage reasons and timing is a story in itself). The fraudulent lawyer refused to hand over any information to our new attorney- simply now we know because she had no documents (Gary’s colleague refused to help by obtaining a simple “yes or no” answer. Again, not just referred us to her fraud lawyer friend, but was integral during process). When the fraudulent lawyer finally did hand over, nothing was done and what was “real” looked very far from it.
Luckily, (so we thought at the time), we fell under the “Windsor Case” jurisdiction, and despite the laws that should have been followed, we received NO benefits despite two spousal applications. Gary can not sponsor Sam because the U.S. government does not recognize us as legal souses or him as a family member. However, under current laws, Gary can sponsor a distant relative to live with him (one he may not even know) or under certain circumstances, someone from a 3rd world nation not even family or related. But not his legal souse recognized by the state of Connecticut- and ironically-recognized by the government of the United Kingdom. (By sending copy of our certificate to the UK embassy , we were in turn, issued a legal partnership registry from England in August 2012.)
In April we were asked to visit with members of Congress and the Senate and share our story with them.Many people think this was an honor, it was in a way to be, but why were were there was to help out with Immigration Reform. We had lost our “case” with the government, we had no option but to go public and help others. Our fight is not about marriage equality (per say). There was a portion of Immigration reform that we needed to pass. but it failed in May. Simply put, 35,000 American citizens were denied the right to just sponsor a partner to live with them – so that the Immigration Bill could move forward to Congress; essentially so rights will be given to 4 million Illegal residents, not to law-abiding ones.
Now, after months of fighting, we have this settlement, but it feels like a hollow victory. She used excuse after excuse despite telling our malpractice attorney (yes, we had to get one of those besides a new Immigration lawyer) our money was on the way (she has already missed her first deadline of monthly payment). We will never recoup what was lost or what cost and damages she continues to put on us. The time we have lost, the money and earnings, the fear we have endured and the toll on our mental health, still weigh on us. Where is she? Continuing to spread lies and making sure all her previously hidden assets are still there. (Frightfully we also learned we were not the first people she has done this to).
Dishonest lawyers have exploited many bi-national gay couples. Because they have no legal rights to be together, they are ripe for manipulation. The fear of being separated from the one you love, will lead you to listen to anyone who can give you hope, even if that hope turns out to be false (including some- not all- gay activist groups).
Let’s hope that the Supreme Court’s decision in the coming DAYS will give us some legal rights we deserve and take away the power that dishonest people have to exploit us. Even IF DOMA is overturned, it does not “solve” our problem (more on that another time)
And that- we can say- is the short version. Ask anyone who has known the whole story the absurdities and pain we have ben through. But we will be telling even more once we get through this week. Gary’s need to catch up on major end of school year work, and DOMA being decided, is enough for us this week. In the meantime, please take a look at our website (which has links to our YouTube videos, Twitter feed, photos of our “life”, etc) or past posts on this BLogsite to see about where we are coming from. Where are we going to? Hope to know that by week’s end.
THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT!