I have to confess that the US Supreme Court ruling on the unconstitutionality of Section 3 of the Defence of Marriage Act — quite possibly the most important gay rights decision in decades — more or less passed me by this week.
It’s not that I didn’t hear about it, or wasn’t aware of its importance, it’s just that we had a bit going on here in Australia and my brain was at capacity. Dumping a sitting Prime Minister will do that to me.
So it wasn’t until this afternoon when I was catching up on this week’s episodes of The Rachel Maddow Show, that it hit me. Actually, it didn’t so much hit me as poleaxe me. Baseball bat between the eyes. I have whiplash.
Because, you see, for 16 years — from 1996 (the year DOMA came in) to 2012 — I was in a relationship with an American woman. All I dreamed about for the vast majority of that time was that the US would see the light, allow me to marry my girl and thereby have the immigration status of every other non-US citizen who marries a citizen. A green card. A way of living on the same continent as the woman I loved.
I tried everything to get work in the US, the only other pathway to an eventual green card. Over 400 resumes sent. A three-day trip to St Petersburg, Florida, where I came damn close to getting a job with the St Pete Times, only to have the managing editor decide that the immigration mishigas was all too much. Another close call in Buffalo, New York, after a 12-hour drive from Wisconsin, only to have the same result, for the same reason.
Early in the piece I was offered a job in Bumfuck, Iowa, sight unseen, by an editor who offered me $16,000 a year as a salary. Self-respect made me turn that down, but I regretted doing so for a dozen years or more.
It occurred to me today, with a rush, that if (completely unrelated) circumstances had been different and we had not split up, I would be heading for the US right now to get married.
Now, it so happens that I’ve never been happier than I am at this moment — for a variety of reasons — so my whiplash is severe. For 16 years my focus was ‘gotta get to the States, gotta get to the States’. The irony of the fact that as I stopped wanting to ‘get to the States’ the means for doing so has become available has not escaped me.
The divergence of the paths our lives take are astonishing and astounding to me. Things, apparently, happen as they are meant to happen. At the times they are meant to happen.