International Lesbian Couple Suffer Because of American Hatred toward Homosexual Families


Stephanie DonaldInger Knudson and her daughter live a quiet but lonely life in Denver, Colorado while Inger studies to become a massage therapist and her 10 year-old daughter concentrates on just growing up and being normal.

A few years ago Inger met a woman through a website who lives in Britain. Her name is Philippa but for the purposes of the great legal conflicts that both Inger and Philippa are going through, Inger requested that her wife’s last name not be mentioned in this article.

At first the two of them found a lot of common ground to talk about and then personal strife hit Philippa in the form of her mother falling ill. Her mother had a misdiagnosed gall stone that turned into septicemia and she passed away very quickly which devastated Philippa so she leaned very hard on Inger for support during the time her mother fell ill and then died.

Before Philippa’s mother passed away she made her promise to take the time to thank Inger for her support during the difficult time she went through. So once the ordeal was over the relationship between Inger and Philippa grew even closer and Philippa came to Denver to spend time with her new best friend and the friendship budded into a deep romance when they both realized that their feelings went beyond that of just being internet pals or close friends.

Inger’s daughter also grew close (Inger also requested that her daughter’s name be withheld from the article to protect her) to Philippa and quickly came to call her “mum” and Inger and Philippa were “handfasted”, a Wiccan or Pagan ritual of joining similar to the Christian marriage ceremony, in Denver on one Philippa’s many trips to visit her new family.

The two began making plans to try to have Philippa immigrate to the United States permanently so the two could remain together and build a stable home life.  Inger’s family and even her ex-husband supported her decision and liked Philippa very much; seeing how happy the two were together and how well Philippa parented Inger’s daughter.

After nearly 89 agonizing days she and Inger had to say goodbye and Philippa had to move back to Britain again when her visa ran out. Philippa had to leave Inger a week and a half after their Handfasting which didn’t even leave the couple a proper honeymoon. The two of them were heartbroken and devastated by the indifference meanness of government bureaucracy at the Immigration and Naturalization Service. There was no way to get an extension or reprieve from the 90 day limit and both Inger and Philippa were not wealthy so the frequent trips back and forth between Britain and the United States had drained what little savings the two had. Inger and her daughter had even spent three weeks visiting Philippa in Britain at one point.

Because of the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 by Congress the marriage between Inger and Philippa was meaningless under immigration laws and symbolic of their love only between the two of them and their family and friends. The United States government turned a blind and very cold eye to the couple and after several more visits by Philippa the Department of Homeland Security even began to treat her as a possible “Enemy Combatant” because of her frequent visits to the United States.

“For all intents and purposes; I’m a single mom and (Philippa) we’re both working hard.” Inger said. “I’m a full-time student and working a bunch of part-time jobs and I’ve eaten-up all my savings and we’re both trying to save up to see each other again and I honestly don’t know when that’s going to be!”

As Inger discussed possibilities to bring Philippa into the country it seemed that she had thought of many different ways to get the love of her life into America but was blocked at every turn; mostly by money. It seems that the only way to get into the United States was to “buy” your way in.

“We looked at Philippa going to school at the University of Colorado here in Denver to get her Master’s degree so she could teach”, she noted thoughtfully, “but the only way she can enter on a student visa is to have $17,000 American in the bank. None of that is for tuition or anything; it’s just to prove that she’s able to support herself without working for a year and then tuition on top of everything else.  I would love for her to be able to teach but it’s not financially viable for us, unfortunately. We’re broke! Travelling back and forth; the phone bill and everything, it takes every bit of money we’ve got!”

Inger has taken her fight to the internet, LGBT organizations and to every politician who will listen. While many have listened intently, in the present climate of a Congress filled up with tea-baggers who have sworn that homosexuals will gain no new ground and as a matter of fact; they’ve sworn to take any gained civil rights away from the LGBT community including trying to sabotage the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, most of the LGBT rights organizations have their own narrow agendas and don't seem interested in listening beyond being polite.

Inger and Philippa’s chances of being together in the near future on a permanent basis, at least in the United States, don’t look very bright at all and Inger can’t move to Britain because to do so would mean giving up complete custody of her 10 year-old daughter to her ex-husband.

“He’s (her ex-husband) been great and very supportive and kind to Philippa,” she said thoughtfully, “he even allowed me to take (our daughter) to Britain for three weeks without any objections but I know he would never allow me to move out of the country with her. He would have to agree to complete custody in court for me to move there and he just won’t do that.”

Inger has even tried contacting the Human Rights Campaign. "They were polite but just told me in no uncertain terms 'we don't handle things like this'." So even organizations that are stictly LGBT including LambdaInger and Philippa Legal have refused to help her.

So because of rampant xenophobia, bullying tea-baggers in Congress and powerless sympathetic politicians who can’t fight the rising tide of homophobia in America, Inger and Philippa remain a heart breaking story of two modern day star-crossed international lovers that should be allowed to get their lives together and provide a stable and loving home for Inger’s daughter but most of all to just be in love which no conservative in America seems to want any homosexual to have.

By Stephanie Donald



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