Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An Interesting Article...

Do Gay Couples Give Up Their U.S. Citizenship?

American expatriates are having a more difficult time living and working abroad, a recent Times article found, causing a small but growing number of them to renounce their United States citizenship.

But there’s another group of Americans who could be adding to that tally: same-sex couples.
Many same-sex couples who decide to leave the United States head for countries that recognize their unions. In fact, when we wrote a story about the extra costs same-sex couples face here in America, we learned that many leave because of immigration obstacles.

Several readers left comments stating that they could not sponsor their same-sex partners for American citizenship — so they decided to migrate to places like Canada, where it’s easier to gain permanent resident status for couples since only one partner has to qualify. Besides, gay marriage is recognized there.

Not all same-sex couples who move abroad will ultimately renounce their citizenship, of course, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

David Cohen, a senior partner at Campbell Cohen, an immigration law firm in Montreal, said he had seen a significant increase in the number of same-sex couples who emigrated from the United States to Canada over the last 10 years.

The couples head north for many reasons, he said, including “what they view as a prejudicial tax system, or they don’t feel they are entitled to the same benefits as heterosexual married couples, or they feel there is more tolerance,” Mr. Cohen said. “And there have been a fair number of Americans who can include their same-sex partner in the application. Only one member of a couple has to qualify for permanent residence status to come to Canada.”

The following readers, who commented on our October story about the costs of being gay, echoed those sentiments:

Rich and Luis, of Vancouver, wrote:
Heterosexuals can sponsor their partners to become U.S. permanent residents; same-sex couples cannot. My now-husband and I had to move to Canada to stay together. We were both professionals in our native countries. Now my husband, a medical technologist, is working at Staples, and I’m making $25,000 less annually with poor benefits at a temporary job with no job security, although at least the job is in my field. It was expensive to become permanent residents, and the move was expensive, as are trips back to see my family.

Megan, of Canada, said:
Try being a bi-national gay couple. We have paid over $70,000 to be together. My partner is Indian and I am American and yet we have to live in Canada if we are to be together.

And Rebecca, of New Jersey:
My wife and I have been together for 5 years and I am in the process of becoming a Canadian permanent resident so that we can live in the same country. It has cost nearly $10,000 so far.

Mr. Cohen said he did not know whether any of his same-sex couple clients ultimately renounced their American citizenship. American transplants may be less likely to do so in Canada because of a tax treaty between the two countries, which lessens the burden of double taxation that many American expats pay in other countries, he added.

Many of the renunciations cited by the Times article were attributed to the issue of double taxation, which has irked many expats for years. Another big reason expats have renounced is because it’s becoming more challenging to keep an American bank account because of new banking regulations aimed at curbing tax evasion and preventing money from flowing to terrorists.

The article says that 502 expatriates gave up their United States citizenship or permanent residency status in the last quarter of 2009, the largest quarterly figure in years, and more than twice the total for all of 2008. There were 743 renunciations last year.

How many of those renunciations do you think might have been same-sex couples? What choices do couples with noncitizen partners have — and what are the costs?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Birthday and everything after...

So I had a great birthday weekend, thanks to all of my friends who made it special : )You can check out the photos here. Flowers, candy, presents, drinks, friends... it was very nice and we had great weather, too. It's strange to think this is the last year of my twenties. I have a feeling I have to make it count somehow.

One friend is thinking of a trip to Europe next month, which I may go on. I've been singing up for new things, like a French class that starts soon, as well as other things like a kayaking course with Sean. Just things to get out, meet people, stay active etc.

Here is the newest from one of my fav singers, Sarah McLachlan (well, before she went through her period of "Adult Contemporary" snoozers). It looks like she might be coming back with good music again!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring Sprang Sprung

It's been a great week since I last posted. Easter/My early birthday went fine with my family. I have a new assistant at work who is a lifesaver. On Wednesday night Sean surprised me by taking me to a chocolate truffle making class at ACKC Cocoa Bar on 14th St (which, by the way, has amazing hot chocolates for cold nights and lavender lemonade for the warmer days). I actually just finished eating the truffles we made. I think I need to go to more cooking classes, I forgot how much fun they are. In fact, I think I need to start doing more events like that; break out of my bubble and meet new people.

Saturday I went to sushi with Sean and we went to Cobalt, which was shockingly busy, and we had a really good time with each other. The next day we checked out a new Korean place (people know how I am about my Korean...) called Hee Been. I was really impressed and definitely would go back! And here I was thinking I had been to every Korean joint in a 50-mile radius. You know, kimchi is a serious health food!

Afterward we went to Brookside Gardens in Wheaton. I love that place, and it's always so nice in the spring when all the tulips and such are in bloom.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


It's that time of yer again. I'm going with Sean over to my parents' house for Easter tomorrow and to celebrate the far more important holiday, my birthday, a little early.

I should add that Sean and I have decided not to move in together. I know, it seems like an emotional roller coaster around this whole moving-in-together thing. And I suppose that's part of the reason I thought maybe it would be a better idea to shelve the idea for now. I think Sean was overwhelmed with work this month, other things going on in his life, and the fact that he's never lived with a partner before. For my part, I have to admit I'm a little sad to leave where I am now, and I'm not sure if Sean and I would be compatible living together or not. I know there's only one way to find out, but the status quo seems to have worked for the last 3 1/2 years. The whole thing came to a head on Thursday when I would have to give 30 days notice to my current apartment building that I planned on moving out by May 1st. Sean suggested moving the moving date back to June. But I feel like we keep pushing dates, so there's clearly some issues that need to be addressed. Hence, I suggested it might be less stressful for both of us if we just took the idea off the table for awhile and revisit it at some point in the future.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Cherry Blossoms 2010

I forgot to blog about last weekend, I realized. It's been a hectic week at work (what;s new there?) but I had a lot of fun last weekend. I went to the Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin with M and Sean (see below). They were really at peak and very pretty. That whole area was also really packed - the Metro was a nightmare (nothing new there consider it is DC's "Underground FAILroad"). And honestly I think it'll be the closest I get to the Mall until after the summer & all the tourists go home.

I got a splitting migraine later that evening, but after some pills I went to dinner with Sean and we met up with P & B at Omega (or as Sean has dubbed it, "The Island of Misfit Toys") and then we went to Apex - which I hadn't been to in ages.The next day was kind of cool and wet, and we didn't really do much of anything except go to an Asian grocery store (I always buy so much there) in Fairfax that I love and have dinner. Weekends always seem to go by way too fast.

We've started getting very serious in our efforts to find jobs in other cities/countries. I don't want to jinx anything, but it feels good to actually do something as opposed to talking (or blogging) about it.