"I don't think the law should tell me that I cannot love Juan," says Eric Manríquez, who married Juan Rivera in 2008 before Proposition 8 was passed in California.
In this moving video op-ed, journalist Jens Erik Gould profiles the dreams of this Los Angeles gay Latino couple, as well as their fears and the uncertainty caused by lack of federal protections as a gay couple and because of an unjust immigration system.
Juan is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, and because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), his U.S. Citizen Mexican-American spouse Eric cannot sponsor him for permanent legal residency like straight couples can. But also, the current immigration system has left over 11 million undocumented people (including approximately 267,000 LGBT adults) who have made the United States their home without a pathway to citizenship. For many LGBT people who are undocumented or U.S. Citizens or permanent legal citizens, immigration reform is also about including straight family members currently affected by the unjust immigration system.
Eric and Juan's story highlights not only the harms that gay couples face because of a lack of federal protections, but also the harms that many immigrant families face as a result. Specifically, because of his legal status, Juan is incredibly saddened and distressed that he cannot see his 89 year-old father in Mexico who is in poor health condition. One of the most moving moments in the video shows Eric visiting his father-in-law as Juan, who cannot be there in person, looks on.
For his part, Gould, chose to document Eric and Juan as part of his “Bravery Tapes” series, which showcases profiles of human courage, because they are "refusing to surrender to their fears [and] they're marching not for one cause but two.”
“Juan has had so much adversity in his life,” Gould says. “Now, not only does he still experience discrimination for being gay in the U.S., he's also living undocumented here. Many people in this situation hide in the shadows. But despite all the adversity and risk, he's publicly fighting for what he believes in because he wants to be an example for his community.”
We applaud Eric and Juan's courage to speak publicly. For more information about GLAAD and other LGBT organization's work to ensure a fair and humane immigration reform, click here.