Or, how Sasha and Anthony got one step closer to happiness
written by Antoaneta Borisova
This is the story of Sasha and Anthony, a lovely gay couple, who have been struggling to be together for more than six years now. I use the word “lovely” not because I want this article to be cheesy, but because it contains “love”, plus it describes them best. Matthew and I had the pleasure to meet Sasha and Anthony and commemorate the most important day of their lives, or shall I say their life: their wedding.
I wanted to write about them not only because it’s a beautiful love story, but also because it inspires, with their never-ending persistence and great dedication in a world where everybody so easily gives up. The other reason was to give Denmark big thumbs up for making this possible. Good job, Denmark!
In 1989, Denmark became the first country in the world to grant legal recognition to same-sex unions, in the form of “registered partnerships”. In June 2012, the law was replaced by a new same-sex marriage law.
Sasha (Saša), aged 39, is from former Yugoslavia, and Anthony, aged 36, is a Mexican American from Dallas, Texas.
They met in Dallas back in 2008. They like to say it was meant to be, since none of them really wanted to go out that night. But yet they did. And it happened to be at the same club. They started to dance together, which of course led to conversation – you know how these things work. There was an instant connection and thus began their relationship.
After 6 months they moved in together and started making big plans for their future. But it all instantly changed when Sasha was detained by immigration. He’d arrived on a tourist visa, which had since expired, and needless to say, Anthony was devastated. He didn’t know what to do, so he hired an attorney. Papers were filed and they waited.
Sasha was held in a jail in west Texas about three-and-a-half hours away from Dallas. He was allowed visitation on Saturdays and for three months Anthony went to see him every week. After nothing looked promising they decided to stop fighting the American immigration law and allowed Sasha to be deported. December 30th 2008: a sad day for two people in love.
Initially they didn’t know what they were going to do but none of them was ready to give up. They started emailing and talking on the phone daily and Anthony made his first trip to Europe the following year. The visit was a new experience for Anthony as he had never been to Europe before, but most importantly, they finally got to meet again and spend time together.
Two years apart
Over the next five-and-a-half years the pair have maintained a very long distance relationship. Many people ask how have they been able to keep this up. Technology holds the answer; especially Skype.
In June 2013 Sasha earned a degree in Banking Finance and Trade. They had looked into the option to emigrate to Canada, which unfortunately proved impossible. And although several US states were already legalizing same-sex marriage, at a federal level it was still restricted. This was because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as a marriage between a man and a woman.
They received a breakthrough when DOMA was struck down by the Supreme Court, allowing them for the first time to petition for a fiancée visa in January 2014. A year later, in February 2015, their application was officially denied on a technicality, and the couple were forced to re-file. It was Anthony’s attorney who decided that they’d have a better chance for a visa approval if they got married.
It turned out that Denmark was the only place in the world where they could do this. Amongst the 18 countries where same-sex marriage is legal (20 counting Mexico and USA, where it’s legal only in some jurisdictions), only Denmark marries couples who are not residents of the country. And in Sasha and Anthony’s case, this was their only chance.
In just one month they made all the arrangements, which took a great deal of effort. Fortunately Copenhagen City Hall was very efficient, and they were able to submit everything online and got permission to marry.
Prior to leaving for Denmark they’d received notification that immigration was re-opening their case, but just weeks after tying the knot in Denmark their petition was denied once again. Now, the only hope left for them to be together is to re-apply for Sasha’s residency as a spouse. That procedure could take at least six months just to be taken into consideration. And if everything goes well, Sasha will be together with his husband in the US by the end of the year. If not, they will be considering Denmark as a possible future home. If Anthony can get used to using public transport.
“Our lives have been on hold for so long, and all we want is to just start our life together,” explains Anthony. “Getting married in Copenhagen is affirmation that our relationship will survive distance and time.”
“Denmark is and always will be our special country that gave us the opportunity to get married. One and only.” added Sasha.
Good job, Denmark. Good job!
This article first appeared online at http://blog.photographybymatthewjames.com/