Do Ask! Do Tell!
400 years after Henry Hudson, American gays and lesbians find refuge in the Netherlands
Amsterdam, the Netherlands – 31 July 2009 – 400 years after Henry Hudson first sailed into Manhattan, the Amsterdam City Council will marry five US-Dutch gay couples in Amsterdam during Canal Pride. Only an astute observer might notice the underlying irony: these couples are not recognized as family in the United States and are strangers in the eyes of the law for immigration purposes. Unless the Dutch partner has a green card or is a US citizen, the wedding may even signal US immigration authorities to deny him entry the next time he travels to the USA.
US-Dutch gay and lesbian families may be united by love but their unions are unrecognized by United States law. Even in states that allow same-sex couples to marry, like Iowa and Connecticut, these couples have no legal standing in the eyes of the US federal government. As a result, thousands of US citizens are forced into exile in countries like the Netherlands, where their relationships with their foreign partners are recognized and they have equal rights under family law.
"With immigration reform soon to be introduced in the United States, the burning question is: will our families be included in this legislation and will we finally be able to return home?", said US citizen Martha McDevitt-Pugh, who lives in exile in Amsterdam with her Dutch/Australian wife. She added, "These couples join thousands of US citizens with a foreign same-sex partner who are united by love but exiled by law".
The City of Amsterdam has invited Martha to represent the love exile community on their wedding boat. According to McDevitt-Pugh, "These marriages send a message to our leaders in Washington: it’s time to honor and respect all our families. There is no place for discrimination in the land of the free."