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A Statement on the Senate’s Immigration Reform Framework

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This morning, a bipartisan group of Senators issued a framework for comprehensive immigration reform. The framework, which is the starting point for fixing our country’s broken immigration system, does not include explicit mention of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) binational families. Immigration Equality is exceptionally disappointed the Senators’ framework did not specifically outline a solution for keeping our families together.

Earlier this year, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus released their own priorities for immigration reform, and LGBT families were #2 on the CHC list. Just last week, the White House issued its strongest statement yet in support of our families, noting that the President “has long believed that Americans with same-sex partners from other countries should not be faced with the painful choice between staying with the person they love or staying in the country they love, and he welcomes changes that would help keep families together.”

Today’s framework is just that: a starting point, but not yet a bill.  We will work non-stop to make sure our families are part of comprehensive immigration reform legislation when it is introduced. Any immigration bill in Congress must allow LGBT people to sponsor their spouse or permanent partner in the same way opposite-sex couples have long been able to under current immigration law.

This morning, millions of future citizens awoke to the news that Congress seems willing to reform our immigration system at last. We all share a common goal: Reform that keeps families together, offers a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented who are already Americans in spirit, and honors our country’s legacy as a nation of immigrants. That should include LGBT families, too, and we pledge to continue working for that fair, inclusive reform along with our allies.

33 Responses to A Statement on the Senate’s Immigration Reform Framework

  1. Charles Duncan says:

    It’s shameful that while the government works to reform our immigration system, looking for a way to allow those who just came to the country and settled here illegally to gain actual citizenship, they still choose to ignore those who are here simply because of the person they love. It’s unfair that heterosexual couples who marry can enjoy the benefits of that marriage when it comes to immigration, but still a slap in the face to LGBT couples who marry legally but still can’t have a happy, productive life with their spouse. If you are legally married in any state that permits same-sex marriage, then immigration should come with that. The federal government needs to include ALL families in immigration reform and stop wasting taxpayer dollars to defend a discriminatory law.

  2. Brad Allison says:

    I read the Senate’s proposal this morning and I also was disheartened to learn that GLBT language was not included. But I want to thank you for all the hard work you do and keeping our issues at the forefront. I also am a voice here in SW Michigan urging my legislators to do the same.

  3. Jon Haworth says:

    This is absolutely heartbreaking. I have been involved with my partner for just over 6 years now and this was the biggest chance to date of a solution to the problem of us either being apart or me having to live away from the country that I was born in, raised in, and love. I know you guys are working tirelessly towards making LGBT language inclusive in any comprehensive immigration reform bill so please keep up the good work. In the meantime I will have to continue to take solace in the fact that my partner and I are not alone in our situation and needless suffering.

  4. cathy johansen says:

    I’ve suspected all along we would be omitted from this because of the upcoming doma hearing which will, I hope rule in our favour and allows lawmakers to try and get something like immigration reform past the republicans. I despise the fact that they are gambling with our lives :(

  5. Hugo says:

    So, even if DOMA is overthrown in Federal Court, same sex couples would still need to be “included” in an immigration bill? Can you guys clarify this? We take so many steps forward, then so many more backwards as it seems… I am concerned about this… Or could DOMA be overthrown and not be a part of the immigration reform? Could you all please expand on this a bit?

    Thank you for all the hard work you continue to do for us!

  6. Jim T says:

    Could just be looking for scraps here, but the following section of the immigration reform framework might possibly be interpreted as positive: “2. Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;” Could the reference to American families include bi-national same sex couples? Schumer is an astute politician, and I wouldn’t count him out yet. He may be waiting until the legislation is actually introduced to include a specific reference to same-sex binational families. And there’s also Obama in Nevada tomorrow. So we’ll see.

  7. Scott says:

    So disappointed and feel sick to my stomach. Please keep up the good work and I plan to keep donating until this is wrapped up.

  8. Josh says:

    This is so disappointing. Does anyone else feel like the democrats promise us lots of good things and don’t follow thru? I realize they are better than the republicans who openly hate us, but I”m just getting tired of all of these empty promises and lip service.

  9. Dennis Lucarelli says:

    I have mixed feelings about the announced framework. Wouldn’t an early, up-front announcement just give opponents more time to mobilize? And are there reliable allies among the Senate deal-makers who will ensure that the final immigration bill ultimately recognizes LGBT binational families? Aren’t the most politically difficult issues often left to the end of the negotiation, making it easier to get the politically more sensitive portions included in the bill? That way of doing things can ultimately go either way, so the question for me is, “Do I trust the Senators on this?”

    My answer is No, I don’t entirely trust that the Senators will act for us spontaneously without our insistence they do so. That is why I am grateful to Immigration Equality for keeping up the pressure, which will have to include lots of letters to our Senators and Representatives, as well as to the President and Vice-President.

    Politics can be an ugly business, and is outrageous that we are still fighting this issue. The question is what we do about it. I vow to send a handwritten letter to my Congressman (even though this will be useless in my case), to my two Senators, and last but not least, to both the President and Vice-President.

  10. Robert Earley says:

    While it is most disappointing that LGBT binational families are not included, what do people expect from any proposal that includes the names McCain, L Graham and Rubio??? We need our senatorial supporters to speak out.

  11. Mark Whiting says:

    So instead of us sitting here and being disappointed we have to call our Senators and Representatives and let our feelings be known. It is important we get as many as possible to voice their concerns early so they may put it in writing. BTW, if DOMA gets overturned and same sex marriage equality becomes law according to the Supreme Court then any law must include same sex couples as well. Due to the fact the law will read All married persons. . . . Don’t forget to be polite, direct and to the point without being confrontational. Just point out facts and be quick as they are taking many calls on this issue and other issues. Treat them as you would like to be treated.

  12. Ralph says:

    Again, LBGT immigration omitted. Not one word on UAFA. We must relentlessly continue to urge and demand equality. UAFA has been around since year 2000,but within days immigration frame work without mention of LGBT immigation. As we continue our fight for total equality, it is important to remember the only thing that is constant is change. Something the resistance to equality and educated fools will not obstruct.

  13. Don George says:

    Don’t get mad, get into action.

    Call the White House at (202) 456-1414. Tell the President, “I appreciate the President’s support of LGBT immigrant families. I am calling to ask that when the President speaks tomorrow in Las Vegas, he specifically call for immigration reform that keeps gay binational families together.” Leave the same message at WhiteHouse.gov under “contact us.”

    Then, call each of your Senators at at (202) 224-3121 or if it is busy, find their direct number on the web. Tell them, “I am a constituent, and I am calling to ask the Senator to work for a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes the Uniting American Families Act.”

    And if you are Senator Schumer’s constituent, give him the above message and ask why he has broken his repeated promise to us to include UAFA in a Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill.

  14. Michael W says:

    I’m so sad. My partner and I have been hoping for some good news and this is not it. But I’d like to thank Jim T for helping with some scraps of hope! And everyone at Immigration Equality. Please keep pushing, and please keep us updated on how we can push. I’ve already called my senators (one of whom is Schumer) and the White House. From here in the Middle East where I work, that’s about the best I can do, for now.

  15. Keith says:

    I couldn’t get through on the phone, so I used the Senator’s web sites to send the same message. Thanks I-EQ for all you are doing!!

  16. Matumbo says:

    Well then again The Lgbt are side lined yet again, I guess the only reprieve here will be if you partner is in the US illegally.

  17. Regina says:

    I try not to be discouraged but I believe that the Obama is an opportunist… Tomorrow when he speaks in Las Vegas will tell more, but I will be most surprised if he mentions us.. Remember that In 2008, Barack Obama pledged to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and replace it with a law that gave equal rights and protections to same-sex couples. The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, signed under President Bill Clinton, defined marriage as between one man and one woman, excluding same-sex couples from more than 1,000 federal rights and protections.

    As a candidate Obama wrote that he supported the full repeal of the law in an open letter to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual, or LGBT, community.Obama took steps to nix it, but the law remains on the books.

    Last year, the Justice Department announced it considered the law unconstitutional and would stop defending it in court. But that’s far short of the repeal Obama promised

    Even so, the outcome candidate Obama promised and promised and promises..– granting same-sex couples equal federal rights and protections as heterosexual couples — hasn’t happened. So far I and many others who live with this daily rate these as PROMISIES BROKEN

  18. Regina says:

    I didn’t mean for my comments to be printed twice,really……………..I meant to say a bit more and fix typos like the article “the“ in front of Obama and bring my comments up to current date but my computer is messed up up it really doesn`t matter. I applaud Immigration reform on their work, continue to support their efforts in my community in any way I can, and wait for the day when these punitive sick laws will be abolished.and my partner and I can stop being harassed

  19. Paulo says:

    Let’s just face it! This sounds sooooo far from reality. While some people are still discussing wheter this should be legal or not, others are being torn apart and feeling so lost and lonely. It’s just unfair.

  20. Patrick says:

    Interesting segment in regard to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) recognizing LGBT families as the second priority. Perhaps this is a potential angle that may serve better in the long run. As many have mentioned, THANK YOU to the Immigration Equality team as you fight the fight for all of us. Framework does NOT = Bill. It ain’t over…..

  21. Ralph says:

    Amazing how John McCain mentions the McCain – Kennedy Immigration reform bill of 1986, and again 2006 – 2007 Immigration Reform, but never once mentions UAFA 2000. Congress should be urged to include UAFA in CIR. Harry Reid should be urged to coupled UAFA with VAWA and speed track them both or as one. Binational couples will not benefit from VAWA without visas. Regardless of DOMA, UAFA should be included in CIR.

  22. Regina says:

    I have worked long and hard as an activist in my community to promote understanding of my (part of a legally married bi national couple) and other’s situations’, and the heartbreak and struggles involved. I have been vocal to a fault about repealing DOMA. Now on the eve of another important day.. I need to understand why my comments and disappointment with today’s failure by the “gang of 8″ to even mention the LGBT community, and my fears about tomorrow (that Obama may not include us, but once again give “lip service” have been deleted from all these other comments. Please explain this to me.. if not publicly, then at least . by email.. you have my email address R

  23. Abraham Wilder says:

    This news is very disheartening indeed. We can’t discount the possibility that our ‘allies’ are executing a stealth strategy in regards to getting LGBT families included in the eventual legislation, but we have to be realistic about the polarized and increasingly hateful opponents we have ready to line-up against anything that could be regarded as a concession to LGBT people.

    For those of us living in forced exile with our non-US partners, (for me its > 8 years), all the while missing out on participating in the lives of our loved-ones back in the States; planning for the failure of UAFA to pass, or for the SCOTUS rulings in the DOMA cases, is prudent. If they don’t want us, some of will be prepared to say ‘to hell’ with the U.S. and our citizenship. Some things people in our position might want to ponder (note: some of these items might put you at risk of violating U.S. tax law – don’t take this post as endorsing any or all of the suggestions). Sorry that this post is so long:

    a) Adding insult to injury, the U.S. government requires that exiled U.S. citizens file U.S. Federal income tax returns, and pay U.S. Federal taxes if you exceed various thresholds. If you fall into this category, there are a number of ways to ensure you don’t exceed the thresholds: – Don’t work for a multi-national company, especially avoid working for a foreign-entity of a U.S.-based company. Smaller, non-MNC’s are likely to not report any income you might earn as a US citizen to the US authorities. – If possible, set-up your own Sole-proprietorship or LLC in your exiled country. Work within the guidelines to ensure you never earn above the IRS’ threshold amounts. – If you do exceed the threshold amounts, simply don’t file. This is risky if you ever plan to return to the U.S. to live or if you live & work in a ‘tax partner’ country of the U.S., but if these circumstances don’t apply to you then the risk is minimal. b) If the U.S.citizen member of the bi-national couple does continue to file U.S. tax returns and is in a very secure, long-term relationship with a non-U.S. national, remember, the U.S. government considers you ‘strangers’ in the eyes of their discriminatory laws. So, if your non-U.S. national partner was the person earning income (investment, dividends, etc), the U.S. government would have absolutely nothing to say about these earnings. This could be a significant financial advantage for exiles living in countries which have limited or no capital-gains taxes. (e.g., if the exiled U.S.-citizen had equity investments that were held for < 1 year, that had a net-gain of $10,000, the IRS would demand they pay a nominal tax-rate on the gains (usually between 25-30%. If a non-U.S.citizen partner was the owner of record of these equities, he/she would have no reporting requirement and zero tax liability to the country in which we reside). 3) Renunciation of U.S.citizenship – Ultimately, the only way for the U.S.citizen member of the bi-national couple to forever free him/herself of the shackles of the U.S. federal tax system is to give up their U.S.citizenship. This is a major step, but if U.S. immigration laws remain discriminatory and you have no realistic means of ever returning with your non-US-citizen partner, it should be seriously considered. Those considering renouncing U.S.citizenship should bear in mind though, that the U.S. has passed a number of poison-pill laws that make renouncing citizenship extremely punitive and for some, expensive. – In an effort to minimize the # of citizens who renounce citizenship, the US has passed various laws which might result in your being categorized as an undesirable alien. This would mean that your chances of obtaining a visa (to visit or work) in the U.S. in the future might be severely lowered. You see, unlike a person with a recognized reason for giving up citizenship, you would be doing so for no legally recognized reason. It would be assumed that you are giving it up to avoid paying taxes and hence you would be labelled as 'undesirable' for future visa purposes. – For those with assets, who are deemed as renouncing for the purposes of eliminating their future U.S. tax obligations, our lawmakers have been planning to put into place a hefty 'exit tax' (not sure about the status of this as of this writing). The 'exit tax' would be 30% of your net assets that the U.S. tax authorities could locate. Someone considering renouncing U.S. citizenship would therefore be diligent in ensuring that their assets were beyond the reach of the U.S. tax authorities at the point of giving up their U.S. citizenship. Bear in-mind, the U.S.' IRS has a very long reach. They have agreements with many governments/banks around the world so you would have to chose carefully where your assets might end-up. As a rule of thumb, if when you establish a new bank account, trading account, etc. in a foreign country, if you are required to provide a U.S. passport in establishing such an account, it is likely that the institution is required to report your account to the U.S. authorities.

    There are many things to consider before embarking on any of such steps. But at some point, a people have to say "enough is enough" and we have waited long enough. If our country forsakes us, then it is our right to seek out more just and equitable circumstances for ourselves and our partners. Thanks to I.E. for leading the fight for us. I'd like to believe that justice & equality will win out, but frankly, I haven't got enough years left to wait much longer.

  24. mel says:


    I’m so glad my life is a bargaining chip for 11 million votes. What a joke. So basically Obama will say “please include them” while republicans say “we wont pass this if you include the gays!” I don’t know why i’m so mad, i knew it would work out this way from the start. Note to self… from now on have no morals, break the law and come out on top.

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  26. mel says:

    We’ve been in australia for the past 3 years, and this is the first year back in the states. We are about to file my partners first tax return since before she left.. Our account just said he’d claim no income for those years away. And claim interest on a savings account she has here which is below the minimum anyways. I’m interested to see what they say, and if they question it.

  27. Ralph says:

    John McCain must have forgotten what comprehensive means. Also, Congressional Hispanic Caucus calls for Immigration Reform Bill to include the recognition of same sex relationships. Other groups as well demand same sex binational partnerships be included in any immigration reform bill. Not all estimated 11million immigrants in the U.S are heterosexual. Within that estimate, there are binational LGBT partnerships…familes which are equally important….including same sex couples is a priority.

  28. Jon says:

    I feel like they’re just ignoring us and assuming DOMA repeal will take care of our issue. But who knows when that will happen, meanwhile including us in immigration reform has a more immediate chance of passage.

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  33. Shiloh Kestler says:

    John McCain followed his father and grandfather, both four-star admirals, into the United States Navy, graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He became a naval aviator, flying ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he was almost killed in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture, and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. His war wounds left him with lifelong physical limitations.`-`-


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