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Thick and Thin for binational couples: Argentinean-born filmmaker Sebastian Cordoba is bringing the plight of binational same-sex couples to the big screen with a powerful new documentary.

Argentinean-born filmmaker Sebastian Cordoba knows the pain of being an immigrant with no rights. In 1997 he fell in love with an American man while living in New York. But with Cordoba's uncertain immigration status, the couple lived with the constant fear that he would be sent home. Finally, in 2000, they just gave up.

"It's a feeling of total desperation," says the 36-year-old Cordoba. "My partner and I really tried to tackle the issue [of staying in the same country], and we found no way out. It was one of the things that caused the relationship to end."

After their breakup, Cordoba, at that time a journalism graduate student at New York's Hunter College, changed course to earn a masters degree in documentary production. His first film was Living Proof: A Documentary About Gay Teenage Suicide Survivors. But he never forgot the pain and uncertainty he felt in that relationship. He obtained a work visa to remain in the United States as a documentary producer and began working on Through Thick and Thin, a powerful film about the plight of binational same-sex couples living in the United States.

"I decided I need to put a human face to the issue," Cordoba says, noting that there are an estimated 35,000 binational gay couples in the United States. "Long-term gay relationships or even marriages don't come with any type of immigration benefit." Because immigration is determined by federal--not state--law, a Massachusetts same-sex marriage, unlike a heterosexual marriage in any U.S. state, does not confer citizenship rights on foreign-born spouses.

The film, expected to premiere at festivals this fall, follows 10 binational same-sex couples who are denied immigration rights because their partnerships are not recognized by the U.S. government. To live in the same country as her partner, Tammy must leave her children behind and move across the Atlantic Ocean. Charly delays sleep for seven hours every night so he can communicate with his lover--who lives a hemisphere away--over a computer video link. Others are forced to jump through rings of fire in order to remain in the same country as their partners.

Cordoba is passionate about seeing change come from his work. He partnered with the advocacy groups Immigration Equality and Human Rights Watch to bring couples from the film on a six-city tour intended to garner support for the Uniting American Families Act. The federal act first introduced in the House in 2000 as the Permanent Partners Immigration Act, was reintroduced in both houses of Congress in July 2005. It would grant foreign partners of gay Americans an equal opportunity to apply for family-based visas and green cards.

Cordoba hopes gays and lesbians who see the film will feel a sense of urgency and ask their representatives to sponsor the bill. After all. he says, "we're all one relationship away from this situation."
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Article Details
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Author:Broverman, Neal
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 6, 2006
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