Subscribe
Tom and Margaret Gable stand outside the church in New York where they were married in March. The couple are fighting the British Consulate in New York after a consulate official refused to provide Tom, a former RAF Lakenheath airman, with a visa to come to the U.K. to live with his wife, who is from Cambridgeshire County.

Tom and Margaret Gable stand outside the church in New York where they were married in March. The couple are fighting the British Consulate in New York after a consulate official refused to provide Tom, a former RAF Lakenheath airman, with a visa to come to the U.K. to live with his wife, who is from Cambridgeshire County. (Courtesy of Tom Gable)

WICKEN — A newlywed and former member of the U.S. Air Force claims the British government is breaking up his marriage after he was denied a visa to live in England with his wife. And he alleges the denial is largely due to his dislike for President Bush.

“They are splitting up a married couple,” Tom Gable said. “We love each other and want to spend the rest of our lives together.”

Gable met Margaret Gable, 49, affectionately known as Pip, in a pub in 1979 when he was stationed at RAF Lakenheath. He played drums in a band that she was promoting.

More than two decades and a separation from the military later, the 22-year veteran married his longtime sweetheart in March in New York.

“It’s been a long road together, but I was never happier than the day we married,” she said.

With his military pension and his ability to access health care facilities at Lakenheath, Gable, also 49, thought it a foregone conclusion that he would be granted a visa to come to England and live with his wife in her Cambridgeshire County home.

That was until an official at the British Consulate in New York took exception to a snippet in some of the material he had turned in to the consulate as part of his visa application, he said.

To prove their longstanding relationship, the couple gave the consulate copies of letters the two had sent across the Atlantic Ocean. One of the letters contained a disparaging passage about Bush.

“In that letter, I said some negative things about President Bush, which I have a right to do,” he said. “They misconstrued that.”

Based on his comments about the president, he said, the embassy refused him a visa.

“She’s basing her decision on one letter. That’s just absurd,” Gable said of the consulate official who decided to deny the visa. “They’re saying it’s a marriage of convenience and that’s absolutely ridiculous.”

His wife contends Gable is not alone in his dislike of the president, and that should not be reason to bar him from living with her. She said the consulate also misinterpreted something Gable said to the consulate official during an interview.

“He said he would do anything to get to England,” Margaret Gable said. “He means so that he can be with me, so we can be together. But they said he didn’t like his country and he would do anything to get out of it.”

The British Consulate in New York, meanwhile, declined to comment on Gable’s case.

“The situation is that we don’t comment on specific individual cases,” said British Consulate spokesperson Sarah Crichton. “That is where that stands, I’m afraid.”

The Gables, however, have received help from her local parliamentary representative.

Southeast Cambridgeshire Member of Parliament Jim Paice wrote a letter to the Foreign Office — the British equivalent of the U.S. State Department — and to the consulate in New York advocating on their behalf.

The Gables, meanwhile, are left to wait in limbo after filing an appeal about a month ago. They are staying with Tom’s family in Pennsylvania.

“They are not notifying us about anything,” Tom Gable lamented. “This is one of the hardest things we have ever gone through and we only want to be treated reasonably.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now