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2004-08-22 - 7:02 p.m.

do you take this I-129F to be your lawfully wedded K1?

The old news is that K and I are life partners, that is, planning to spend the rest of our lives together. The new news is that we have confronted the US Customs and Immigration Service and as of today I am filling out an I-129F form to bring K to the USA as my fiance.

This is a bit odd for someone who spent years as a member of the "Alternatives to Marriage Project" - a group that lobbies for equal financial and legal rights for both homo- and hetero-sexual couples who remain unmarried. I'm not opposed to marriage, but think that it's time for the world to recognize that there are other ways of declaring your love and desire for life partnership with a person.

I'm not keen on marriage myself, and the thought of going to another wedding makes me want to break out hives (oh look, another big white lace curtain walking down the aisle. Isn't that special?) In case you haven't gathered, the veiled white frilly thing with the bow on her butt JUST ISN'T ME.

Again it's not that I'm opposed to the whole thing. In fact, for the record, if I went to your wedding, I was happy to take part in this very special personal moment between you and true love. I probably even had a good time, and I was thrilled that you included me amongst your other 249 closest friends.

It was probably afterwards at the wedding party when older relatives started prying into my life and asking when I was planning to get married, when were the diamonds and bells going to be a part of my future - Or when the younger guests starting trying to fix me up with their single male friends in therapy - that I wanted to escape like Alice's white rabbit down a hole. Oh, how I loved it when old Uncle Benjamin asked, "do you want to be an old maid?" And don't kid yourself - it happens EVERY TIME. I'm about to head off for a wedding in Maryland, and I assure that the prying personal questions, no matter how rude they would be at any OTHER time, will come up.

So you see, I would find this a weird feeling to be announcing my impending nuptials to the Office of Homeland Security, if it weren't so funny. First I - "the petitioner" - must fill out the I-129F "petition" - for my "beneficiary" (K). I mail this "petition" with a $170 check made out to Homeland Security (which now explains their source of funding...)

Once the "petition" is approved (2-5 months), K is promoted from "beneficiary" to "applicant," which means we can then actually "apply" for the visa. Once the visa application is accepted (2-6 months), K is awarded a K-1 visa, which then entitles him to enter The Country and marry me with the next 90 days, and then we can apply for the Green Card (which is actually PINK - see chapter FIVE for next instructions).

Congratulations if you've followed me this far, because now comes the funny part. In order for this whole thing go through, we have to provide all kinds of proof. Birth certificates, certified translations of birth certificates, proof that we've met (on a soccer field, in fact). And then there's my favorite: proof of impending marriage. Acceptable proof includes: wedding announcements, catering contracts, affidavit from my pastor.......?

Okay, I was planning that we head to City Hall and stand in line, and spend 90 seconds with the clerk - and then afterwards we pop a bottle of champagne on the Brooklyn Bridge. $25 dollars for the marriage license, $80 for the bottle of champagne, plus whatever the fine is for having an open bottle of alcohol on the Brooklyn Bridge...I wasn't planning on invitations or anything..

Besides, how the heck could we sending out announcements when we don't even know how long the darned process is going to take??? Do we write, "we and our parents are proud to announce our marriage at City Hall as soon as the K-1 visa comes through"? (don't laugh, I think I might actually do this, except that I wasn't planning on sending out announcements, either...)

So, I guess that this is big news. I never thought that I would get married, and I certainly never thought that Homeland Security would be involved.

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