In the name of equality for all, DREAMers and the LGBT community came together in Washington D.C. today to participate in two seemingly unrelated ceremonies: the National DREAM Act Graduation and a marriage between a bi-national lesbian couple.
“This year, especially because we are focusing on comprehensive immigration reform, they decided to include certain LGBT components and have a DREAM wedding,” says Ameesha Sampat, the media manager for Immigration Equality. “The graduation has happened before, but from what I saw today, with the two different movements coming together, the wedding stole the show.”
Today, almost 300 people RSVP’d to support the annual graduation and the marriage of an “undocuqueer” couple to highlight the intersectionality between immigration and LGBT rights.
“This is a celebration for our couples,” Sampat says. “LGBT people have been fighting this fight for a long time and they aren’t ones who are going to sit down and watch other people fight without offering a hand to help.”
After the graduation and the actual ceremony, Prerna Lal, an undocuqueer activist with Immigration Equality and one of the brides, emerged from the church with her new spouse, Lindsey Schubiner. They were followed by a group of six other bi-national couples affected by U.S. immigration policies.
“This is one unique event that really beautifully captured that DREAMers and LGBT people are not two different communities,” Sampat said.
Tim Smulian, a 66-year-old native South African, married an American citizen in South Africa back in 2007. For the past ten years, the couple has moved to and from the U.S. every six months because Tim could only obtain an American Tourist Visa.
“We have been banking for 14 years for the equality of bi-national couples to be recognized in America,” Smulian said. “And now a petition has just been launched to apply for my green card.”
Smulian and his husband, Edwin Blasch, 73, both traveled to Washington to show their support at the wedding. Smulian said he was pleasantly surprised to see DREAMers highlighted in the event as well.
“I’ve always looked at America to lead the way,” Smulian said. “While I believe everyone should have the right to citizenship, the battle goes on and it is certainly moving forward. I never dreamed in our lifetime we would see our marriage recognized in America.”
Blesch, a U.S. citizen, said he feels like him and his husband are grandfathers of the LGBT community because they do not know many people their ages still fighting for marriage equality.
“There is an enormous sense of relief that comes with our freedom earned after fighting for immigration equality for such a long time,” Blesch says. “Our message is to continue fighting for the rest of equality. Our lives have changed in the last week-and-a-half and the way we feel about total equality.”