Pride 2013

Pro-LGBT Americans join Stockholm Pride

Pro-LGBT Americans join Stockholm Pride
The Democrats Abroad in Sweden are getting ready to march in Saturday's gay pride parade in Stockholm, but said recent developments in the States meant some of their members in same-sex relationships could soon head home.

“The strikedown of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is historic, although there is still a lot to be done in the US,” Democrats Abroad Sweden spokeswoman Suzanne Samuels told The Local. “It’s a crucial year to support the LGBT community, which is why we are marching tomorrow.”

While Americans living with a same-sex registered partner or spouse credit their second home country Sweden for its gay-friendly culture, some are now eyeing a move home.

“Now, LGBT Americans have the freedom to plan their futures, return to care for elderly parents, resume interrupted careers and establish their lives in the US without the fear of separation or deportation,” Democrats Abroad Sweden said in a statement.

This applies to all-American couples, who may now, once the DOMA strikedown trickles through the US legal system, be protected in for example inheritance questions. It is also true for couples where one person is a US citizen but their non-American partner has not been able to apply for right to entry to the US as a spouse.

“It is one of our key focus areas,” Samuels said. “A lot of our members can’t go back home with their same-sex partners, because it hasn’t been legal, but some can now apply for green cards.”

While Malmö resident Philipp Marra moved to Sweden about a decade ago simply because his partner got a job there, the couple has stayed on.

“It was in Sweden we actually got our first chance to become registered partners,” Marra told The Local. “When Sweden changed the marriage laws in 2009 we switched over immediately.”

While the gay-rights climate in Sweden was not “perfect”, Marra said, it was a step up from the couple’s original home in Florida.

“There isn’t a day-to-day debate in Sweden about whether you have the right to exist,” he said. “Although the atmosphere here is not perfect, it is lightyears ahead of the US.”

“In Florida, same-sex marriage is not only against the law, they then put it in the state constitution,” he continued. “It’s actually a crime for anyone to try to marry us.”

While Marra and his partner are in no hurry to leave the life they have built for themselves in Sweden, they do have friends who are pondering a move back across the pond.

“It would involve uprooting their lives, but some people I know would like to start the process, and they’ll begin by registering at the embassy,” he said.

“We’re gonna do that too.”

Ann Törnkvist

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