Andrew Sullivan is closer to being an American citizen than ever, and could not be happier. He joined Fareed Zakaria this week for an interview set to air tomorrow to narrate the troubles he went through to finally be accepted as resident, from finding out he was HIV+ to having his marriage to his spouse, legal in his states, rejected by the federal government under the Defense of Marriage Act.
Zakaria notes that Sullivan “only recently” acquired a green card, something Sullivan noted was extremely emotional for him. He noted there were two reasons for the delay: “I am HIV positive and have been since 1993. Secondly, because I am gay and my marriage, which is legal in both my residents states, both Massachusetts and Washington, DC, is not recognized by the federal government, so I am not granted a green card automatically by virtue of marriage.” Sullivan found this to be an “injustice,” not just to him as a UK citizen but even moreso to American citizens. “American citizens, I don’t think, ever thought the right to the pursuit of happiness did not include the right to marry the person you love,” he notes, something that the Defense of Marriage Act actively prevents gay Americans from doing if they fall in love with non-US citizens.
Sullivan explained the HIV situation first though, explaining that he “found out I had HIV back in 1993,” when it “was a death sentence,” but that “the thing I grieved most about that day was the fact that I had to withdraw my green card application which had been approved in every respect… I was more crushed about being excluded from America because of that than fear of dying.” He also noted he found it astonishing how many people were unaware that the policy had remained in place for so long, since many of those affected would risk deportation if they revealed they were HIV positive.
Zakaria agreed, and asked about the marriage rule once again, which he opined was “discriminatory and cruel.” Sullivan agreed, and noted that he was not the only person in political discourse with such a problem. “Glenn Greenwald, who is an American, has to live in Rio de Janeiro because his spouse can’t get a visa to live in the United States because he’s not recognized as a spouse.”
Sullivan was ultimately grateful to America, and noted that “no actual American ever treated me any differently for being HIV positive, or gay, or British” (“maybe the third,” Zakaria joked). He was just happy “to be a participant in this country’s amazing debate,” to be able to write “we” when referring to the nation: “as a writer, that’s a breakthrough.” But he concluded with a plea for American citizens: “No American should be forced to choose between their spouse and their country.”
The full interview airs tomorrow morning. The clip via CNN below:
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