I just blew in from the Silver City

Well it’s high time I posted an update on our activities for those who don’t know us or follow us on twitter (where we’ve shared probably too much information on the joys and pains of what we’ve been up to). For those lucky enough to be ignorant of the goings on, here is a short list! In the 3 months that we loosely term “Summer” we crammed in:

  • A few trips between North Wales and North East Scotland for job interviews and house hunting (18 hours roundtrip each time)
  • A 10,000 word dissertation
  • A graduation ceremony, complete with stupid hat and not falling off the stage
  • A civil partnership ceremony
  • A trip to visit/meet family in America
  • A 60,000 word thesis
  • The Most Traumatic Visa Application Of All Time, collated over a few months and finalised after 36 hours of no sleep, 24 hours of travelling and serious if-I-don’t-get-some-sleep-soon-I-will-set-out-on-a-murderous-rampage-starting-with-you jetlag
  • Being split by 400 miles when Jenny started her new job while I was still in Wales
  • A(nother) wedding party (long story)
  • The “big names” relatives meeting for the first time
  • A compact tour of North Wales for visiting American family while also packing the house
  • A cut-throat game of moving van tetris
  • Moving house (which was traumatic enough in itself to constitute at least one and a half Ian McEwan novels, the hero being Jenny’s dad who drove us the whole way up before catching a train back to Manchester for a long-haul flight home)

How long does it usually take for a couple to cross all of these things off their to-do-list? We have decided that after all this we are never doing anything again. Or at least not for a while. Probably.

Anyway, you will remember all the madness around the changes to immigration laws and The Evil Government. I haven’t posted ANYTHING about our wedding, about the ceremony, about the visa application or anything related because I’m slightly superstitious and don’t want to jinx us. You might be interested to know that out of all the letters we sent, all the emails, all our family and friends who lobbied politicians with us, I think Jenny had one reply that didn’t address any of the LGBT issues she raised (and we, along with thousands of other people have faced). I have not received one reply from any politician I contacted. The welcome anomaly in this case has been Caroline Lucas, who Jenny tweeted asking her to take up the problems and fight our corner. She replied straight away and asked for more information. Personally, I was so surprised and pleased by her reaction that I almost erected a shrine to her and the Green party in our tranquil back garden, but again, I didn’t want to jinx anything.

There has been no word yet on our visa application. Will we have our life together torn apart on the whim of UKBA and Theresa May’s backward thinking? We shall see.

As for the wedding, I cried all morning and then I cried at our friends at the registry office. We were late for the party because the metro was down so we got the bus and then walked, the party was well underway when we got there. Everything was excellent and I wouldn’t change anything.

A letter to Theresa May – Guest post by Jenny

Hi Theresa,

I thought you’d be interested to hear a personal story relating to your proposed rule changes. I’ve been an international student for three years and am on the cusp of completing and handing in my dissertation. I’m also engaged to be “married” to my English partner, a fellow student who I met while studying and being active in my local students’ union. We’ve been together two years, and I couldn’t have found a better person to spend my life with. Isn’t that great? If it sounds great, keep reading, because I have even more wonderful news for you.
On top of my upcoming civil partnership ceremony at the end of July, I’ve been offered a permanent job at a rate of pay which is a little lower than the new £18,600 per annum you’ll soon expect British nationals to make, but is the perfect job. I couldn’t have designed better and I’m willing to take slightly lower pay for a few years to really get a solid grounding in the professional field I’m seeking to enter. It’s a graduate role that I couldn’t have gotten without my UK university experience under my belt and it’s in something I’m really passionate about. My partner is looking for work now in the city we’ll be moving to together, and luckily enough, she’s secured one interview so far. We’re hoping against hope that she gets it. The situation for us wouldn’t be so urgent, you see, if you hadn’t introduced some of the most illogical and backward rules for family class migrants I could’ve invented in my own worst nightmare.
Your new rules, Theresa, the ones that are supposedly to prevent abuse, and state dependency? They’re hurting us. I’ve always followed the rules. I’ve been a great ambassador for what being an immigrant should mean. I’m likely to make, and continue making, a productive member of British society. You’re ruining a lot of things for us with this sudden and swift change. Let’s start with our late July wedding, which now has the shadow of the UKBA and the 9th of July rule change looming over it. (Oh, by the way, three members of my family are coming from the US to visit and spend lots of nice American dollars as tourists, for our wedding. They’ll be travelling, spending money in shops and supporting local businesses by eating out a lot and paying for our wedding cake and flowers from local companies. They’ve also paid for a substantial portion of the cost of our wedding which, because we have ethics and values, has emphasised local goods and services as much as possible.)
We’ll just miss the deadline for this new rule change by a couple of weeks, meaning that all the hard work I did to ensure that I had an appropriate job before we went on holiday next week is a total waste. All the work I did to ensure that I’d be able to afford to support us both while my UK partner continued her job hunt is now pointless, because you won’t recognise any of it. This is utterly ridiculous and so deeply disheartening that I can’t really express it in words. There is also the fact that my family- both of my parents and my gran- are more than willing and able to help support us as a couple, and me as an individual, while we settle into our new, “married” working life. I’m disgusted that the REAL facts of my situation will not even be taken into account. You’re insisting on looking at only a small percentage of the picture, and discounting valuable information like the fact that I have a permanent job offer and family support.
This is why your policy just makes no sense at all. I mean, by your own justification, it shouldn’t even apply to me! I’m not in an abusive relationship, I won’t need state support (and neither will my partner) and your rules, which threaten my ability to remain here with my future wife, actually threaten to split us up. See, Theresa, I’m American. My home government doesn’t recognise my upcoming civil partnership as valid. I don’t even have the option of bringing my partner with me as a spouse. And she’s a fresh out of the blocks graduate- she won’t be eligible for a US HB visa for quite some time.
I just hope you’ve really thought this through, Theresa. This is utterly heartbreaking and I have to be honest, infuriating. I don’t even expect a proper reply to this letter because I’m sure some office minion will just read it and send a standard form response. That’s a real disappointment because if you understood the high personal and emotional cost of these rules- and I’m sure they’ll cost the UK a lot in lost tax revenue, too- I would like to think you might reconsider. I fall into that lucrative 20-30 year old employed bracket that everyone’s going on about- you know, the 58% of applications that will be refused under your new rules.
I write this in the very vain hope that it might spark a glimmer of compassion and sense in your Government’s approach to immigration.
Thanks for your response.
Jennifer Krase

Dress shopping

It may come as a surprise to you that dress shopping was stressful. Not only is there a lot of pressure to look a certain way but no one but us seems to grasp what we’re going for. This is no traditional wedding, there will be no white dresses, organs or speeches. This is about Jenny and I. We aren’t doing this so we can act out the bizarre rituals thrust upon every bride and groom since forever (we aren’t allowed to get married in a church, why would we carry over the religious symbolism?). We’re doing it because we want to be together for good and we want the rights that come along with that. This is the ultimate commitment and I could not give a damn about what kind of hosiery you’re supposed to wear. It could not be less important to me. The reason we want nice dresses is because we want to feel special and happy and mark the day with dressing up, not with nonsense that other people want to fuss over.

I took loads of pictures of dresses, I was going to post them here but really, who cares? I’m frowning in most of them anyway. This is the only picture I’m showing you. Jenny in a lovely dress expressing how much she loved our shopping day:

You’ll see our dresses in the after pictures!

We’re in the paper!

We were on page 2 of The Independent today!

Edit:

Jennifer is an American student at Bangor University in Wales. She is due to enter a civil partnership with her English fiancée Georgia Mannion in July.

“The whole attitude of the state towards civil partnerships seems to be that this is not the same as getting married, that it is more like a promise between friends. That is disappointing because it feels like the romance is being taken out of our big day. I do want to marry my partner for the advantages* it gives. But that does not change the fact that I want to marry my partner because I love her.”

“I’d love my family to come to the wedding ceremony”

*Jenny said “rights” not “advantages”, what she said to the reporter has been paraphrased.

You can read the whole thing here but the piece in the actual paper was better:

[Indy link]

The extension of marriage

Stonewall have introduced The Extension of Marriage to Same-Sex Couples Bill 2012 which would make civil partnerships marriages. It looks interesting. It would mean same-sex couples would have exactly the same rights as married ones.
It’s very short because there aren’t many differences between “marriage” and civil partnerships. The main difference for me is that my civil partnership (to be) feels like everything a marriage is already, I’m just being made to call it something different and THAT is where the split is. It’s that you can’t have a religious civil ceremony (no one can) but then there’s no alternative for same sex couples. There’s also the man from the council who will correct you when you call it a marriage, because it’s not a marriage, it’s different for you because you are different.
If this bill will do anything it’ll make same-sex couples feel more normal. There’s nothing normal about planning a wedding anyway. There’s nothing normal about people fussing over your dress (or suit) or your rings or who is going to throw the bouquet.
Everyone is brought up to expect to get married and taught about the very specific rituals of it. Since there’s no “ritual” expected for same-sex couples it should invoke a kind of freedom, but people still expect all the same things from you. But you aren’t allowed to call it a marriage.

Here’s the link to Stonewall’s bill: http://www.stonewall.org.uk/documents/stonewallmarriagebill.pdf