Not long ago, Brandon Perlberg had a growing law practice and a Manhattan apartment he shared with his partner, who is British. They hosted themed dinner parties and wine tastings for a wide circle of friends. 

But Mr. Perlberg, an American who is gay, now lives in London. Early last year he reluctantly left his law firm, rented out his apartment and said goodbye to friends. After nearly seven years in the United States on legal but temporary visas, his partner had not been able to obtain a visa as a permanent resident. The two were facing the possibility of permanent separation. 

Americans with a foreign-born spouse of the opposite sex are able to get them resident visas, or green cards, with relative ease. But federal law does not allow Americans to petition for green cards for same-sex spouses or partners. Eventually, they face a choice of remaining in the country with the immigrant here illegally or leaving the United States. 

“Ultimately, we resolved that staying together was the most important thing for us,” Mr. Perlberg said. “And the only way to guarantee that we got to stay together was by making this move.” 

Mr. Perlberg is part of a diaspora of gay Americans who have found they had to uproot and leave the country to continue to live with foreign partners. And this year, binational gay couples like his are a new — and controversial — focus of the debate in Washington on an ambitious overhaul of immigration laws. In a blueprint that President Obama presented last month, he pledged to give citizens, and also immigrants who are legal residents, the ability to petition for a green card for a same-sex foreign partner, if they can show they have “a permanent relationship.”

The Supreme Court will also take up same-sex issues this year, with hearings in March on two cases that challenge the definition of marriage as being a union between only a man and a woman. One case deals directly with a 1996 statute, the Defense of Marriage Act, that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage and governs the exclusion of gay couples from visas and other immigration benefits. 
Leading Republican lawmakers have questioned whether Congress should include such a hotly disputed issue in the debate when it will also wrangle with giving legal status to 11 million illegal immigrants. 

In July 2011, same-sex marriage became legal in New York State. But under the federal marriage law, Mr. Storey still would not have been eligible for a green card as a spouse. 

As Mr. Perlberg watches from London, he acknowledges that things could be worse. “London is not Siberia,” he said. “I have a new job and a new career, and I’m excited about that.” But he said he wrestles with resentment. “It’s very difficult as an American to have gone through all that and know that the country just pushed us out for being in love,” he said, “and being gay.” 

I understand the resentment part. The sad truth is that certainly in Virginia, but in America at large, LGBT individuals are less than full citizens - all because of insidious religious based discrimination.  Something the Constitution itself prohibits, yet the GOP and the Christofascists persist in defending discrimination and bigotry.  If circumstances were different, I would leave not only Virginia but the USA as well.  Hopefully, rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court in June will move me towards full, equal citizenship.