Frederick E. Ferguson
Toronto, ON CANADA
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Director, Preclearance Operations
1300 Pennsylvania Ave, Northwest
Washington, DC 20229
I am a US Citizen and Canadian Permanent Resident living for nearly 12 years with my Common Law Partner and Canadian Permanent Resident in Toronto. On June 12, 2009 Toronto Preclearance CBP officials refused to allow us to enter the U.S. with a single customs claim form despite the fact that 1) we live at the same address and 2) we packed out suitcases together. As a result I spent nearly an hour waiting while he was sent to secondary processing. We could not communicate by cell phone and CBP officers had to go back and forth communicating with both of us in order to eventually resolve the impasse. I am sure you can see how inefficient and frustrating this situation was for all concerned.
I am aware that the Defense of Marriage act prohibits the U.S. government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Regardless of the merits of that law, I do not believe the law compels the result that happened in this case. Had we been allowed to enter the U.S. with our Canadian marital status recognized on the customs form, we would have been entitled to none of the unique legal rights or privileges in the U.S. that a married couple would receive. Nothing legal in the sense that any statute would have been affected had our declaration that we are in fact a Canadian married couple been honored. In addition, it seems to be counter to the mission of CBP to not seek to identify those passengers who are 1) traveling together, 2) living together and 3) sharing luggage.
I do not understand why it should be American policy to insist that people seeking to enter our country as tourists from another country repudiate their own country's rules and engage in what are to them wholly inaccurate self descriptions and in a way that they understandably find to be degrading and may in fact undermine American national security. Forcing people to deny their own important values when this has no security bearing serves no public purpose. Whatever its motivation, treating people in this way inflicts tremendous emotional pain for no reason other than to express disapproval of their marital status be they same-sex or unmarried heterosexuals. It further undermines the primary mission of the CBP which should be to guard and protect the American people and ensure the security of its borders. I urge you to reverse this policy.
Frederick E. Ferguson