Being able to marry the person you love is a basic freedom that anyone should have. It's that simple, right?
On Tuesday, the Hawaii Senate is expected to pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. Even though I'm a born-and-bred British citizen who has lived in the UK her whole life, I'll be holding my breath all day waiting for the decision.
You may be wondering how marriage equality in Hawaii could possibly affect me. You see, Hawaii is a place that I hold dear to my heart. Hawaii is not only a beautiful and picturesque island with crystal blue oceans, soft sand between your toes, beautiful mountains, and unforgettable sunsets. It's also where I knelt down on one knee in the sand and proposed to my now-wife.
This is not your typical romance story, though. In 2008, I met a beautiful American girl called Whitney who was studying abroad in London, all the way from University of Hawaii Moana. We are a femme lesbian couple who quickly fell in love, embarking on a long distance relationship between the UK and Hawaii.
The thousands of miles apart were very hard to endure, but there was nothing like the feeling of finally being reunited after months apart. How I would long to land on the island of Oahu, to feel the Hawaiian air brush my skin as I walked between the arrival lounge to baggage claim, to be greeted by the love of my life waiting with a lei. Each trip, we fell more and more in love.
In May of 2011, Hawaii was the place I chose to propose. As the sunset went down on Waimanalo Beach, I got down on one knee and asked my soul mate to marry me.
Happily, she said yes! Sadly, our story didn't end with happily ever after.
Shortly after we committed to spending the rest of our lives together, Whitney's visa to join me in the UK was denied. Given immigration rights and civil partnership rules for same-sex couples in the UK, that visa, the one she couldn't get, was our only option.
Our lives were shattered. We had stayed strong and committed for three whole years, visiting each other's countries, living in each other's cultures for months on end. Hawaii had become a part of us, yet it offered us no rights. We could not stay and embrace the Aloha, as the state did not recognize us as a legitimate couple. When my three month visitor's visa drew to an end, I was forced to leave without my fiancee and head back alone to the UK.
It took us a whole year before we managed to successfully secure Whitney's visa to the UK. We celebrated our togetherness while we commiserated over Whitney's having to leave the country and island she loved and called home.
Last June, Whitney finally moved over to the UK. We said "I do" in a a beautiful intimate civil partnership in September of 2012. Unlike Hawaii, the UK recognized our love and Whitney as my wife, enabling us to finally conquer the long distance.
For Whitney, our partnership meant leaving her country and culture. It hurt to know that despite the love we held for Hawaii, it did not truly love us back. Where was the Aloha, Hawaii?
Now, we are ecstatic to see the move towards marriage equality in Hawaii. We hope that we will get the outcome that those of us who love the same sex and love Hawaii deserve. We deserve for our love to be recognized and legitimised. We deserve to be treated as ohana.
It would mean the world to us if we could get married in Hawaii, the place where our love blossomed and grew, the place that means so much to us but where we can no longer live, for now. We eagerly await the Senate's decision, for Governor Neil Abercrombie to sign marriage equality into a reality.
We miss you, Hawaii. We want to come home.