With insurance and some OBGYN recommendations ticked off the to-do list, we were feeling a little smug. Like maybe we were finally getting the hang of Singapore.
We filed for my Long Term Visit Pass. Straight spouses of foreigners here on Employment Passes get Dependent Passes. Common-law spouses, parents, and assorted others get the LTVP, which is like a deluxe visitor visa, allowing the family member to stay for a year, renewable up to five years. Clearly a second-class citizen type pass, but still an improvement on the three-month visitor visas I’ve been collecting for the last year through frequent and well-timed trips out of the country.
Singapore doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. But when E took this job in Singapore, the people she spoke to over here assured her that they knew of other gay couples who’d gotten LTVPs because their marriages were recognized in their home countries, putting them in a similar position to common-law spouses. Ironically, when we made the decision in March 2013 to move here, DOMA hadn’t actually been kicked to the curb yet, so our marriage wouldn’t have been recognized in our home country, at least not on a federal level. But we had faith in the Notorious RBG & co. and, indeed, the Supreme Court overturned DOMA and we were married this spring and returned here with marriage license in hand and what could go wrong?
This was the error message we discovered in the email chain that informed us of the problem: “Singapore does not recognise same-sex marriages, so we cannot grant H a Long Term Visit Pass as your spouse. Instead, we advise her to apply for a work pass if she wishes to stay and work in Singapore. We will assess her application on its own independent merits.” (Love, the Ministry of Manpower).
Putting aside both the awesome discrimination happening here (because we’re hardly surprised at this point, right?) and the fact that I already have a job I like very much (freelance writer and academic copy-editor), let’s talk employment pass logistics.
First, I must possess “acceptable qualifications,” a term the MOM doesn’t exactly define but which I probably meet, and a job offer. Not just any job, though. A part-time gig at the local Starbucks isn’t going to tick the boxes. To get an EP, I must take up a full-time managerial, executive, or specialized job with a monthly salary of at least $3300 SGD ($2640 USD). But wait! For an added degree of difficulty, on August 1, Singapore’s new hiring rules came into effect with the aim of making it more difficult for firms to hire non-Singaporeans. Really stellar timing.
I’ll just add here that we’d also planned on me being the primary care-giver to our future wee one, one of the perks of working from home rather than in a full-time managerial, executive, or specialized position somewhere out in the glass and steel jungle of Singapore. So much for pro-family Singapore.
So to recap, because the Ministry of Manpower (and Singapore’s government in general) doesn’t approve of the combination of genitals we’ve got going on, I’m going to have to change careers, get a full-time job outside the house, and effectively use my salary to pay someone else to look after our baby.
Makes total sense.