A gay couple who moved to Canada after the US laws failed to recognize their marriage has committed suicide few days apart in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
The lovers reportedly moved to Canada few weeks ago.
French acupuncturist and porn star Wilfried Knight committed suicide last week in Vancouver. Prior to his death, he wrote a series of blog posts expressing his frustration over being forced to move to Canada due to his visa expiring and the U.S.’s inability to recognize his marriage to Jerry Enriquez. Enriquez killed himself days earlier on Feb. 21.
The couple were married in Canada in 2011, but upon moving to the U.S., the Defense of Marriage Act prohibited them from being married in the states. This meant Knight was also forbidden from getting a green card sponsored by his husband.
In the blog posts, written before his suicide, Knight explained the ordeal in detail:
“Never mind our commitment, our years together, i was to be thrown out. My partner knew it and decided to look for a job in the only country that would allow us to be together and marry: Canada.
“And I know what most people will say: Why didn’t you guys marry in Washington, or California, or NYC? Well, If you are two gay men from different nationality, state marriage does not matter, even if one is American. It needs to exist on federal level to apply to a multinational couple". (sic)
Knight explained Enriquez obtained a job in Canada at sportwear company Lululemon. They left America to start a life there. But shortly after, Enriquez was fired by the company after a series of events, leaving the couple financially strapped and without employment, a visa, or health insurance.
Five months later, Knight came home to find his husband dead after he did not answer his texts.
“He had it well prepared. When i came back home worried for not receiving any answer to my texts, i found him there..hanging. I since then discovered the poor guy was on clonazepam and zoplicone to cope with the stress..which he had left there on the side with a bottle of wine he had purchased that morning…Which simply seemed aimed at me, in a way saying: “follow me and see you on the other side’.”
Knight wrote more posts saying he believed Enriquez wanted him to follow him in his suicide, as he left the pills and wine. He said it was “a last proof of love: he goes the hard way (who wants to die hanging?) and leave me the easy road.”
Following Enriquez’s suicide, Knight also found that the same laws preventing their marriage in America also prevented him from being recognized as a surviving spouse after his death, meaning all of his belongings were passed down to Enriquez’s family and not Knight.
“BUT, if you like me have met your partner and lived in USA before, purchased goods, a condo together, well, if you are not from the same nationality, even if state gay marriage exist, in the absence of a will, the living partner left gets….Nothing.”
Knight said Enriquez’s siblings were packing up his old possessions in America and not allowing Knight access to the proceeds, though they were on good terms prior to his death.
Immigration Equality estimates that there are 35,820 same sex couples in the U.S. facing similar circumstances, meaning they are forced to comply with the U.S. immigration law and separate, live out of compliance with U.S. law or move abroad.
Communications Director Steve Ralls said in a statement:
“Suicide under any circumstance is a tragedy and in this case that tragedy is compounded. Immigration Equality was not aware of Knight’s case and it’s difficult to know all the details surrounding his and his partner’s suicide.
What we do know, however, is that no couple should have to deal with the difficult circumstances our immigration laws force so many into. That’s why we’re committed to changing the law as soon as possible. The separation and discrimination couples face is very real and very painful.”
In the final post before Knight killed himself, he emphasized the point of explaining his experience.
“US or any country should have National/Federal gay marriage to allow people like jerry and me to be together, even if from different nationality".
Michael Mew, Knight’s friend, said Knight killed himself only two days after Enriquez in the same hotel where they were married.