'˜Home Office won't recognise our same sex marriage' say Milton Keynes couple forced to live 4,000 miles apart

A gay couple who legally married four years ago are being forced by immigration authorities to live almost 4,000 miles apart in the future.

Tuesday, 18th September 2018, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th September 2018, 11:58 am

British-born Ben Page and his American architect husband Brian have been forbidden to stay together both in the UK and in the US.

The couple, who live in Oldbrook, this week appealed to Milton Keynes MPs to end the “crazy bureaucracy” and plead their case to the Immigration Minster.

“All we want to do is get on with our lives. We’re not asking for a penny in benefits. All we want is to live as any other married couple, support ourselves and fulfil our dream of adopting children together,” said Ben, who is 36.

He met Brian, 41, in 2012 and later flew to the US on a ETSA visa. They were married in New York in 2014.

Shortly afterwards when Ben’s mother became terminally ill and the couple flew to the UK to be with her, with Brian on an ESTA visa that was valid for an initial six months.

As the illness dragged on, Brian applied for an extension. After two years this has now been refused by an immigration judge – who refers to their marriage as a ‘civil partnership’.

“It’s crazy, because we’re legally married and this government voted to recognise gay marriage. Yet they are forbidding Brian, my legal husband, to stay here,” said Ben,

Going back to the US together is not an option because Ben cannot return to Brian’s family in North Carolina, where same sex marriage was not recognised until October 2014, unless he reapplies for his visa. And that would be a lengthy and costly process, he says.

Now the couple’s only hope is an appeal to the Upper Tribunal, which will cost thousands.

“We had savings when we came here, but they’ve all gone on legal fees and supporting ourselves while Brian is banned from getting a job here,” said Ben, who works in London.

“He’s a talented architect and he has so much to offer this country. He’s been offered jobs but has to refuse them,” he said,

The couple have launched a fundraising page on www.gofundme.com/help-us-fight-the-home-office in a bid to raise the cash to appeal.

“We have to end this terrible limbo that we’ve been living in for the past four years. It’s taken a huge and terrible toll on our physical and mental health,” said Ben.

MK South MP Iain Stewart, who is gay himself, told the Citizen it seems “very strange” that Ben and Brian Page’s marriage has not been recognised.

He said: “I would have hoped that this would not be an issue these days. I can fully understand why they feel hurt and upset. I hope something can be done so they are not split up during this difficult time in their life.”

The couple live in MK North so their MP is Mark Lancaster. This week the Citizen asked him what he intended to do to help.

He said: “”I have raised the case with the Immigration Minister, in particular the concerns regarding the court’s failure to acknowledge their marriage. I hope their concerns are considered seriously and some common sense is applied. I have a great deal of sympathy for them.”