Mabo is a Japanese citizen. He came to the United States to go to school and get his Bachelors Degree in Athletic Training and a Masters in Physical Education, which he did. Mabo is now working as the Head Trainer of Sports Medicine at a small university near Dallas. He has a work visa that will expire in 2015; at that time, under normal circumstances, he would have to return to Japan.
In 2011, we met and fell in love over a period of 7 months, at which point we began living together. (To read our love story, click on this link: A Country & Western Dancehall Romance. Or find the link, Our Love Story on this blog.) Over the next year of living together we often talked of getting married and that hopefully, someday, the laws would change that would allow us to do so – affording him the right to become a US Citizen through our marriage – allowing us to remain together in the same country. I honestly thought this was not going to happen any time soon; so I was absolutely blown away when it actually did!
On June 26th, 2013, when the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was overturned by the US Supreme Court, same-sex couples were given the right to marry and have it legally recognized by the United States Federal Government. For the majority of Gay people this was a huge victory allowing them to realize the 1,100+ rights and responsibilities that marriage provides on a Federal level. To Mabo and me, this meant much, MUCH more! This meant that we could stay together – in the same country!
On that day when it hit the news that DOMA was overturned, I spent a good part of the day at work trying to confirm what this meant for us. By the end of the day I had gathered enough sources confirming that the Federal Government would recognize any marriage that was performed in a state that same-sex marriages were legal. And, most importantly, this act would give us the same rights as all other marriages in spousal immigration rights. I was in complete shock! This seemed to come out of left field – I never expected it to come true so quickly. I drove home with the good news and was bursting to tell him in person.
When I got home from work, I pounced through the door and Mabo was in the kitchen preparing dinner and talking to John, my ex-partner and now “brother” of sorts. “It is true!” I exclaimed, “We can now get married and you can become a citizen!” Mabo jumped up and down, which he often does when excited and even sometimes when he isn’t excited, and shouted, “So, when are we getting married?!” “Well, I haven’t even formally asked you yet.” “What are you waiting for??? Ask me!!!”
I looked up at him and said, (mind you, we are standing in the kitchen, I have my things from work still in my hands – and my ex-partner is standing right there – not very romantic!) “Mabo, will you marry me?”
“YES! YAY!” as Mabo begins jumping up and down, while hugging and kissing me.
John rolls his eyes, sighs and bellows, “THANK GOD!!!!”
We had already planned a trip to Provincetown, Massachusetts with my brother and a few friends for the first week in August, a month and a half later. So, we turned that trip into our wedding since our marriage would be legal in MA. I researched online and found out all we needed to do to make it legal in that state and I arranged for a Justice of the Peace to marry us on a secluded beach on August 9th, 2013.
The beach thing never happened because a storm blew in that morning and to get to the beach, you have to take a boat ride. And, I could already see it in my mind, “…the weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed…” So rather than taking the risk of being stranded on a desert isle, we opted to be wed under the safety of the covered porch at our condo complex. It was just lovely and we had instant access to our condo for the celebration to begin afterward.
We were joined by my brother Michael Todd and several of my best friends. The rest of my family would have come if they could have. This was all done so quickly, no one who hadn’t already planned to be there for the vacation (before it was even a wedding) could have come – Ptown books solid several months ahead. I also find it quite serendipitous that the two friends from my past that I would have wished to be there, my growing up gay best friends, had already planned to meet us out in Provincetown. So, we were surrounded by family and friends for that magical week!
Once we arrived back home after the wedding, we looked up all the information on filing for his citizenship. There are two main parts and the total filing costs are around $1500. All of the instructions are right there on the US government site, so we followed them and filed the first petition that proved my citizenship and that we were married and living together. This first part cost only $420. We decided to file this on our own, without an attorney, since we found out it would cost a few extra thousand if we hired one. The second part of the filing costs around $1100 and Mabo had to obtain his birth certificate and other documents, so we were taking our time and saving our money for the fee. Mabo’s visa wasn’t up until June 2015, so we had some time… or so we thought.
In the first week of March, 2014, less than two weeks from when I am writing this, Mabo’s school announced they are closing the campus at the end of the school year, in June. uh oh! Now, time is of the essence. Luckily, Mabo was able to extend his work time to the end of August “to help close the department and deal with all of the athlete’s insurance issues”. But for Mabo, it was simply buying some more time.
If Mabo doesn’t have a job with a company willing to sponsor him (up to $6,000 above his salary), or if he doesn’t have his citizenship finalized before the end of August, the school is required by law to purchase him a one-way ticket back to Japan – immediately.
Mabo also found out that the school has to pay for an immigration attorney to help him out. Luckily, we don’t have to do this all alone. Mabo will meet with the attorney in the next week to get answers as to how long this process will take. If the process will take longer than August 31 – he will need to focus all of his energy upon finding a company willing to hire and sponsor him in his field of study.
I will add additional posts as we go. If you want to follow this journey, please hit the FOLLOW button on this blog and you will receive an email notice when I add to the story.
Thanks for reading!
Jimmy & Mabo