Don’t Leave LGBT Families Out of Immigration Reform

Don’t Leave LGBT Families Out of Immigration Reform

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 Editor’s Note: The White House has been reaching out to the evangelical churches for support on immigration reform. While several prominent evangelical leaders have extended their support, some have said if same-sex couple were included in family reunification proposals that would be a deal breaker. Amos Lim, founding board member of Out4Immigration, a group advocating for bi-national same-sex couples has a response.

Not many people realize that within the United States there are approximately 36,000 couples who are struggling to be together because they are binational same-sex couples. The Uniting American Families Act would allow U.S. citizens or permanent residents to sponsor their partners to become permanent residents.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., recently held a press conference with more than 40 advocacy groups to urge congress to pass the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) this year by ensuring that it gets included in comprehensive immigration reform.

Here in the state of California, our state legislature voted overwhelmingly in a bipartisan way a few weeks ago for AJR15 -- a joint resolution that makes California the first state to support the passage of UAFA and its inclusion in comprehensive immigration reform.

Most people are still unaware of this situation -- that an LGBT American does not have any right to sponsor his/her foreign spouse for a green card while their heterosexual brothers and sisters have those rights. It really does not matter if you are one of the 18,000 couples legally married in the State of California, or one of the many LGBT couples who are married in the states that recognize marriage equality -- the federal government does not recognize those marriages because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In fact, being legally married or registered for domestic partnership could create problems for some couples as the foreign partner could easily be classified as an overstay risk and be denied entry into this country even if they follow all the rules.

All these stories are real! Falling in love and wanting to commit the rest of your life to someone should be one of the biggest joys in your life, but when you are a same-sex bi-national couple, it could also be the start of a nightmare -- being forced to choose between love and country.

SF Weekly recently did a cover story in their June 9 issue titled, "Worlds Apart" about this issue. In it, they highlighted a gay couple, Mark and Sang, who are legally married in San Francisco, but the foreign spouse has since been denied entry into the country.

Sen. John Kerry petitioned personally for a gay couple in Massachusetts who have been separated due to the unjust immigration laws.

California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced a private bill last year to help stay the deportation order for Shirley Tan so she would not be separated from her wife Jay and twin sons. Ms Tan's private bill will expire at the end of this year, which means she will face the threat of deportation again, when the new Congress is sworn in.

Now there are reports that adding the language of the Uniting American Families Act could potentially be a deal breaker for comprehensive immigration reform.

I want to let all those who oppose adding LGBT couples into the immigration reform bill to know that we are families too! A lot of our couples have made a commitment to each other to stay together in sickness and in health. Even though the obstacles for us to stay together seem insurmountable, we are still here and we are still together! For immigration reform to be truly comprehensive, LGBT families must be included in the reform.

Many LGBT couples have already left the country to live in exile in one of the 20 countries that accepts same sex immigration. It is time the United States recognizes this issue and passes immigration reform that includes same sex bi-national couples, so that Shirleys and Jays, Marks and Sangs and the thousands of others out there could live their lives without worrying perpetually about separation.

By not including LGBT families in immigration reform, or not passing the Uniting American Families Act, we will be forcing families to separate and that is wrong. Don't forget, LGBT families are families too!
 

Comments

 
Anonymous

Posted Jul 27 2010

One of the really disturbings things that no ever mentions, is that if comprehensive immigration is passed without inclusion of UAFA then the federal government will be giving rights to aliens that it denies to its citizens. I support reform, and I think people that have been living and working here should have a path to citizenship that is viable, but how can anyone from any party think it's okay to grants rights to non-Americans while continuing to deny them to people that have been citizens their whole lives? I was born in the U.S. both of my parents were born in the U.S. my ancestors fought in the civil war, but I can't sponsor my spouse who is a national of one of our closest allied nations because we are the same gender. Be fair the immigrants, but don't deny citizens rights as you extend benefits to them. To do so is betrayal and morally reprehensible.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 27 2010

So sad and so stupid. Why can't we all just follow one simple rule that exists in every language and every religion in the world... the Golden Rule. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Amazing that Evangelical groups would be among the first to fight the idea of equality. Shame on them!
Kenny

Anonymous

Posted Jul 27 2010

Gay people pay taxes. If they do not have equal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then give them a tax exemption.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 27 2010

I'm in this same situation right now! I want to get married but can't sponsor my girlfriend for immigration simply because she's a girl. It doesn't matter that we share the expense of two households and are raising two kids together. As much as we can raise them together with her on one side of the world and me on the other. All I want is to be able to choose my own mate and raise a family with her. That's all. It would be perfectly legal for us to do so if not for genitals between our legs. we aren't directly related, we're not married to anyone else, neither of us are a child or an animal, or someone who isn't mentally responsible enough to sign a civil contract. And I would sign a civil contract with her if I could. I don't care what they call it, everyone has a civil marriage in the eyes of the law. EVERY married couple does. So lets give civil marriage to everyone, and leave the religious marriage to the churches alone. I don't care how it goes down, I just want my girl. And it hurts that total strangers have the right to tell me that I can't have her.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 27 2010

I've been with my girlfriend for 4 years in a months time, she is from the States and I'm from the UK. I have visited a couple times for 3 months at time, the second time I was stopped at immigration and pulled aside and questioned. Luckily I was allowed to enter the country for my visit but I worry for my next visit that I will get pulled aside again and won't be so lucky. All we want is to be together legally in the same country. I am willing to go anywhere to be with her but it's harder for her as she's had a sick step father for 3 years who just passed a few weeks ago, so she's needed to be with him and her mother. It's so hard to watch someone you love going through grief and suffering being the other side of the world only having internet to keep in touch and be there. So for now, understandably with losing her step father she wants to be there in the States with her family and unless this bill passes we will have to remain an ocean apart except for visits which are getting more expensive. Since my last visit flights have gone up by $200-250 on average, last time I was able to visit now was June-September 2009. Hoping to visit again in the fall and hope I am allowed into the country for the visit. I will never outstay my 90 day visa because I don't want to be there illegally, deported then never be able to apply if this bill does pass, although I miss my partner and leaving each time is so hard, Please let this bill be passed soon so we can just be together and have the normal lives many other couples take for granted every day.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 27 2010

Lets just hope they will pass it. Sadly there are many people who will vote it down just because it's "unnatural" I want my husband and I to live without fear of deportation

Anonymous

Posted Jul 27 2010

The sad thing is that the the Gay and Lesbian community is going to be sold down the river. In order to get the evangelicals and republicans aboard for immigration reform. I personally believe that if the Uniting American Families Act into comprehensive immigration reform, it will be defeated by the republicans.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 28 2010

I am a US Citizen, a Vietnam Veteran, a home owner, a Tax payer and a member in good standing in my community. I have served my country, paid my taxes, and yet I am not afforded the same rights as my neighbors because I am a man in love with another man. This is AMERICA? Home of the Brave, Land of the Free? ONLY IF YOU ARE A HETROSEXUAL.
I am one of the THIRTYSEX THOUSAND Bi-national couples. I've been with my partner for 8 years. It's time these wing-nuts realize we are People too, we are Families too, that we deserve the same freedoms as they do. Our relationships are no different then theirs.
It's not SPECIAL Rights, it's EQUAL Rights.
Pass the UAFA!

Anonymous

Posted Jul 28 2010

I served my country both in and out of uniform for 27 years. I protected the borders of this country, only to be told that the woman I love is not being allowed to cross these same broders to be with me.

We are both law-abiing citizens who only wish to be together. It is so hard to understand why some people can be so insensitive and callous as to deny another human being the right to be with the one they love.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 28 2010

Please pass the UAFA. I'm a US citizen living in Canada due to the fact that I cannot provide my partner who was actually educated in US coming from Europe.

The fact that illegal aliens have been considered to be given these benefits for breaking the law and given more rights that a US born Citizen like me makes no sense.

Excluding UAFA would be a betrayal to all US citizens beyond comprehension.

Thanks for writing this piece!

Exiled in Canada

Anonymous

Posted Jul 29 2010

The church should separate their Christian/religious law from a country/national law. Not all Americans are Christians & want to follow their Christian laws, this is 2010, why Christians can still use their religion to oppress others? This should be a human's right, an American's right, not a religious right, please separate religion from politics. The church is also practicing double standard, anyone who divorced & remarried when their ex is still alive is practicing adultery, why the church still opens its door for them? That's favoritism, that's biased, stop oppressing the LGBT, have your own Christian laws apply to your own group & let the other Americans have their own life, this is a human's right.
~Cecilia

Anonymous

Posted Jul 29 2010

If the politicians see that CIR will not pass if UAFA is included, & the only way for it to pass is to take the UAFA out from CIR, then the polticians have to find another way so that the LGBT Americans can sponsor their foreign spouse into the country. Either pass the UAFA / have that DOMA overturned. At least allow a state, eg Massachusetts / whichever to do that, a temporary win-win situation, if LGBT immigration to every state will freak them out. If that happened, should also allow a temporary long-term visa that allows the foreign partner to stay as long as they follow the laws. All these should be temporary until UAFA is passed / DOMA is overturned.
~Cecilia

Anonymous

Posted Jul 29 2010

The officers in US embassy will not give foreign partners a tourist/visitor visa, the custom officer will deny them an entry if they're under visa waiver program, if they found out these foreigners are in a same-sex relationship with an American. These officers see them as intended immigrants & use that as a basis to deny them to visit their American partners & families, even these foreigners are so willing to follow the laws, not overstaying, not working, etc. This is an oppression to the binational couples & their families. American government should do away this rule, the foreigners aren't coming in illegally, they're following the laws, why specifically targeting these LGBT?

In Wikepedia (United States Visas): "Same-sex partners of non-U.S. citizens can qualify for temporary visas to the U.S. on the basis of their relationship according to the U.S. State Department, which effectively gives U.S. citizens fewer rights than non-citizens seeking to live with their same-sex partners in the U.S."

Anonymous

Posted Jul 29 2010

The officers in US embassy will not give foreign partners a tourist/visitor visa, the custom officer will deny them an entry if they're under visa waiver program, if they found out these foreigners are in a same-sex relationship with an American. These officers see them as intended immigrants & use that as a basis to deny them to visit their American partners & families, even these foreigners are so willing to follow the laws, not overstaying, not working, etc. This is an oppression to the binational couples & their families. American government should do away this rule, the foreigners aren't coming in illegally, they're following the laws, why specifically targeting these LGBT?

In Wikepedia (United States Visas): "Same-sex partners of non-U.S. citizens can qualify for temporary visas to the U.S. on the basis of their relationship according to the U.S. State Department, which effectively gives U.S. citizens fewer rights than non-citizens seeking to live with their same-sex partners in the U.S."

~Cecilia

Anonymous

Posted Aug 2 2010

I am really tired of the number "36,000" that keeps being used for UAFA! This is the GUESSED number still in America in this situation. It does not count the COUNTLESS number of those us who have left America to be with our partners and spouses and would love to return home under UAFA!

Anonymous

Posted Aug 2 2010

Give me a F'n break! People are people. Legal is legal, and illegal is illegal.

Anonymous

Posted Aug 29 2010

YES LGBT are also families !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don’t Leave LGBT Families Out of Immigration Reform, pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

it's really hurt and hard to live separately with the one we love , hope the president of immigrate should understand that feeling of ppl.

Anonymous

Posted Sep 3 2010

i have just recently been seperated from my wife and so that it isnt so hard on her our two u.s. citizen sons are in mexico with her the u.s. consulate said that i didnt explain why i would suffer any hardships and that i have to send in more proof and explain it to them again. all because she messed up in 1999 and came here illegaly. she and i bought a house, have two sons, all bills in both names and all vehicles in both names and we both work. now i have to support two households and try and keep up this one but its hard the only things in life that are important to me is my sons and my wife but they dont see that. or do and dont care that they are seperating a good family with no criminal back ground and they would rather release a criminal who has applied than a woman who is a great wife, mother, and worker all in one. what embarrasment i have to say this is my country that did this to me! so yea we need that family unity and if it is with a same sex partner thats fine too. everyone deserves love no matter the sex, race, religion, or the nationality of that person. so says our rights and i aim to push those rights.

Anonymous

Posted Sep 5 2010

I just hope that we can get a break! Would it kill for acts of kindness to support those that feel left out in society. I love my TS girlfriend like a wife and the thought I can't marry her sickens me to my stomach. Really, we are families or future families and the same rights should be applied for everyone. Just because we are different and dont share the same views as the hetero's does not make us wierd or alien. We are people to just trying to get by in life! I dont understand the concept of why this is even an issue at all. It's not only good thing to pass but if not do it for the ones that have kids! Sometimes this stuff get to be a bit much for me that I am ashamed to be a human being! Pathetic!

O.O.T.E

Anonymous

Posted Dec 18 2010

Such law they believe in is nothing but the most ignorant law they've implemented. How can i person apply for a visa and asking his or her sexual orientation. Now what? You want them to say they're straight? what it has to do with their sexuality? In the first place if u didn't ask them why would be so important then for them to know? it's too much! Then they are forced to lie and come to the U.S. just to be with their partner for a while but are they really aware what these people are going through? Isn't it just like punishing them? Isn't just like how they segragated the blacks from the whites. If they're able to understand the problem that time there's something too they will learn from the current situation of the LBGTQ's. If a person is not in such situation it was too easy for them to hate and to disregard because anyway they cannot relate or they're not gay or doesn't care. If their family taught them about respect for other people.. if they can't take them as gay, lesbian, transgender or queer people at least respect them as human being who has rights too.

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