President Barack Obama’s message of hope resonates strongly with Kindall Goble and Phil Healing.
The two men recently had to move to England because Healing’s work visa had expired and U.S. immigration policy doesn’t recognize same-sex partnerships.
Now they hope the new presidential administration will correct this inequity.
“Boy, does President Obama’s message resonate with us,” Goble told PGN. “We’re clinging to the hope that he’ll do something to help our family be reunited. I’ve been ripped apart from my mother, my sister and all my extended family.”
Goble, 60, is a U.S. citizen, but Healing, 46, is a citizen of the United Kingdom.
When Healing’s work visa expired in October, he was forced to move back to England or risk deportation. Goble followed him last month, and the two men now live in Retford, about 70 miles east of Manchester.
The couple wants Obama to issue a directive or executive order instructing U.S. immigration officials to recognize civil-partnership designations like the one they were granted in England in 2006.
This action would make it possible for Healing to live in America permanently, and it could help open the doors for others too, they said.
“Maybe we’re tilting at windmills, but what’s hope for?” Goble posed.
The two men have been together for about 16 years. They lived for about nine years in an old Victorian home they restored in Allentown, which is currently being rented out.
“No place is really a home unless I’m with Phil,” Goble said. “This ordeal has added some stress to our relationship, but fortunately it had a firm enough foundation that it’s flourishing. After 16 years, the relationship is as magical as ever.”
The civil-partnership designation the couple received in England allows Goble to remain in that country permanently, Goble added.
“In a sense, we’re living in exile in the United Kingdom,” Goble said. “It feels like we’re the victims of ethnic cleansing. We’re being separated out of America because we’re gay. The Bush administration basically said our civil partnership wasn’t worth the paper it’s written on.”
Goble said the federal Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, shouldn’t prevent Obama from taking action, because DOMA doesn’t address civil partnerships and is silent on the issue of international relations.
A spokesperson for Obama declined to comment for this story at this time.
Goble is aware of pending federal legislation that could remedy the couple’s dilemma, including the Uniting American Families Act, which would allow U.S. citizens in binational same-sex relationships to sponsor their foreign-born partner for immigration benefits to the U.S.
But such legislation could take years to enact, Goble said.
“We’ve clutched at those straws for years. We need something more immediate.”
The men have a close friend in Allentown, Daniel Coppinger, who is working quietly behind the scenes, contacting anyone he can think of who might be able to persuade Obama to issue the directive or executive order.
“Now is the time for President Obama to do the right thing, while he’s in the good graces of the American people,” said Coppinger, 50. “President Bush has eviscerated our standing in the global community, and this is a perfect opportunity for President Obama to improve international relations.”
Coppinger said the couple’s departure from Allentown has been “devastating” to many people.
“They’re a civic-minded, loving couple who did so much for the community, especially in terms of promoting the arts.”
Tim Cwiek can be reached at (215) 625-8501 ext. 208.