When I lived in Chicago and tried explaining to friends the immigration difficulties gay couples had when one of them was foreign-born, more than one of them asked if my partner and I couldn't just get married or become registered domestic partners and that'd take care of it, right? Forget the fact that at that time – the late 1990s – there was not legal gay marriage anywhere in the United States. Even today, state-approved marriages mean nothing in federal law; in fact, I've heard of gay couples that list themselves as married on federal paperwork (customs forms, taxes, etc.) getting into big legal trouble because they're not considered to be married in the eyes of the theocracy – I mean, the federal government.
Don't judge my friends harshly for not knowing that; unless you're caught in that horrific space of worrying about having to move to another country or being separated from the one you love, you don't think about such things. And when you do have to deal with it, be prepared for a long fight. Get a really good lawyer. And kiss off any idea of being able to afford a home anytime soon.
So here's the scoop: A straight person can sponsor her foreign-born boyfriend for U.S. immigration purposes. The immigration authorities are known to be difficult even in those situations, because they have to deal with a lot of people who lie about being a couple just to get into the United States. But it is possible, doable, and legal.
Hell, here's a worse scoop: An American man can buy a wife from another country, and that passes muster with our federal government. They don't have to have children. They don't have to stay together for the rest of their lives. They don't even have to love each other. But a man who's been together with his boyfriend for years and who wants to be together with him for the rest of their lives is unable to sponsor his partner. Their relationship means nothing to the government.
So it's great to see that Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert is reportedly going to Washington, D.C., to join the fight to end discrimination against gay and lesbian couples in U.S. immigration policy. She is doing so in support of a piece of legislation called the Uniting American Families Act, the sort of law that would make the Fox News crowd choke on their own bile, but which makes sensible people choke up with emotion because they know that real love and commitment is at stake.
Reports on Gilbert's actions include the note that she knows what she's speaking of, because her foreign-born partner was unable to stay in the United States. By "partner" they mean her Brazilian boyfriend. You have seen the movie, no?
If you're interested in learning more about immigration equality for all citizens, here are some resources: