Monthly Archives: February 2013

Pack your bags

waiting at the border

Two years ago I traveled in SE Asia for just under three months. The topic of what to bring comes up often enough that I thought I’d write a post about it, if only for my easy reference in the future.

I was nudged to write this by a friend who asked: If you could only bring three things with you on a trip, what would they be? My quick, flip answer was: money, a camera and a toothbrush. But writing this just now, I replaced toothbrush with shoes. Oh, how fickle a packer I am! When I was preparing to go on my trip, a friend sent me an extensive packing list. The picture above shows me with my luggage: a medium-sized internal frame backpack as well as a small daypack on the ground, plus my moneybag and camera around my shoulder. And you should know I am a towering five feet one inches tall, so that should give you some idea of the size of my pack. I think it weighed about 15 pounds when I left the US. I did end up buying another tote halfway through my trip to carry all the things I ended up buying (pounds of pepper in Kampot!). If I had to do it over again, I would have left the books behind and probably tried to just load them all on an e-reader. Books are HEAVY!

Here is her list, complete with notes:

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Immigration policy

Gay cake

I know at least two same-sex bi-national couples. Unlike their heterosexual counterparts, unless the foreign partner can attain a green card through other channels, they are always forced to make painful choices in order to stay together.

If you have ever deeply loved another person and had that love returned, you know what you would sacrifice to keep that love. This is the same equation that these couples work through. There is new legislation being proposed that would include bi-national same-sex couples in immigration reform. I urge you to take a few moments to write a letter. You can use the following letter I wrote:

To the Honorable Senator [name],

I’m writing to ask you to include bi-national same-sex couples in immigration reform. Specific provisions for same-sex bi-national couples MUST be included in ANY comprehensive immigration reform bill going forward. America’s gay and lesbian citizens should not be forced to choose between loved ones and country.

This is an important and highly personal issue for me. In 2007, my friends, a same-sex bi-national couple, moved to Canada because of the current immigration laws did not allow them to remain in the U.S. together. Sze came to the U.S. from Malaysia as a student 12 years earlier and earned a degree in Computer Science. But with her work visa expiring, she and her wife, Nadine, a U.S. citizen, left their friends, family, careers, and community behind. They were fortunate to be able to move back in 2011 when Sze got a job that sponsored her for another work permit. If the federal government had recognized their marriage, they would not have had to spend four years in another country. While in Canada, they met dozens of other couples who moved from the U.S. in order to stay with their partners.

I met another same-sex bi-national couple while I was traveling in SE Asia a few years ago who have not been able to stay in America, for the same reason as Nadine and Sze. But unlike Nadine and Sze, they haven’t been able to return. They have been separated from the support of friends and family because Tony cannot sponsor Thomas to remain in the United States.

I think this is a terrible injustice. As one of your constituents, I respectfully ask that you support gay and lesbian inclusive immigration reform.

You can write to your legislator here or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

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