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Allies Speak Out for LGBT Families in Immigration Reform


Following introduction of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform proposal, allies from the LGBT and immigrant communities have added their voices to those calling for the inclusion of our families in a final bill.

In the coming weeks, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on the addition of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) – a measure to end discrimination against LGBT binational couples – to the legislation.

Here’s what some of our allies are saying:

“Reforming immigration will protect millions of immigrants seeking a decent life and make our country stronger. But those who dismiss the needs of LGBT families and suggest that we can only protect some, but not all people are not being true to deeply held American values of fairness.” – Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal

“Although we’re disappointed that the bill does not include a provision that would allow binational same-sex families to petition to stay together in the United States, the Senate’s proposal includes many features that will have a positive impact on the LGBT community.  For example, it eliminates the one year filing deadline, broadens the notion of custody so that individuals can apply for protection while under government supervision, and improves legal access programs to ensure that detainees will understand their rights before moving forward with an application. These are extremely positive developments.” – National Immigrant Justice Center

“Some of the most heart-wrenching stories we hear at Marriage Equality USA are from binational couples and their families. Same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and permanent residents are often faced with the prospect of deportation because of the absence of legal marriage rights. Sometimes both partners leave family and friends in the United States for countries that accept gay couples – becoming “love exiles”. U.S. immigration is largely based on the principle of family unification, which allows U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor their spouses (and other family members) for immigration purposes. Same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, however, are not considered “spouses” and are hence excluded from family-based immigration rights. Thousands of lesbian and gay binational families are torn apart or forced to live in fear of being separated. These are real families forced to make choices that no one should ever have to make. Marriage Equality USA deplores the exclusion of same- sex couples from immigration reform because love recognizes no geographic boundaries; families and children deserve the protection, dignity, and respect of a loving home.” – Marriage Equality USA

“Immigration reform should bring us together to create a stronger America that welcomes and supports all families.  LGBT families must be included in all aspects of reform if we truly believe in liberty and justice for all.” – CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers

“We are gravely disappointed . . .  that even as many families will experience the joy of reunification, some families and family members have been excluded from the Senate bill.  As the process moves forward, we will strongly urge the inclusion of same-sex partners and spouses in the legislation.  Every family deserves to live in unity.” – The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori

“There are 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country – including at least 267,000 who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  The introduction of the bi-partisan Senate bill is a solid first step in addressing our broken immigration system – but there is much work to be done to ensure a fully comprehensive and inclusive immigration law is passed.  Family Equality Council believes we must pass comprehensive immigration reform that provides for a safe path to citizenship, ends unjust detentions and deportations, abolishes the one-year filing deadline for asylum-seekers, and preserves the current family-based immigration system – which must include bi-national same-sex couples. At its core, immigration is a family issue.  There are over 36,000 bi-national same-sex couples currently residing in the U.S., almost half of whom are raising children. With no ability to sponsor their partners, these U.S. citizen parents are forced make impossible choices: live apart from their same-sex spouse/partner and split up their families or remain together but leave the U.S., thus uprooting children from their schools, friends, communities, and extended families.  We call on Congress to ensure that any immigration legislation that reaches the President’s desk includes the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) – the bill that explicitly allows LGBT Americans to sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration purposes.  We look forward to the day when our nation’s immigration policies make our families stronger and create more stable homes.” – Family Equality Council

“Reform legislation should reunite families, eliminate unconscionable family-based backlogs, preserve diversity, end discrimination against LGBT people, and ensure adequate numbers of visas in all categories.” – The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

“The bill introduced by the Senate’s Gang of Eight brings us one step closer to the historic immigration reform this country desperately needs. From a groundbreaking pathway to citizenship, to a lasting solution for the young DREAMers hopeful for a future in this country, to much-needed reform for asylum-seekers, this bill will change millions of lives for the better. But as immigration reform reaches the Senate Judiciary Committee, there is work left to do.  . . . Failing to act on UAFA would stand in stark contrast to this bill’s unprecedented inclusivity. As we stand at the crossroads of history, leaving anyone out weakens the moral authority of this once-in-a-generation legislation.” – Chad Griffin, President of The Human Rights Campaign

“The bill is not perfect. We will work to improve it as the legislative process unfolds. . . . We want the definition of families to include LGBT families. We want to roll back harsh detention and deportation policies, stop the separation of families and reduce the wasteful spending so rampant in our current enforcement system.” – Alliance for Citizenship (A4C)

“Immigration is a major priority for the Jewish community, and this new bipartisan bill gives us all reason to be optimistic. However, there remains important work to be done in order to ensure that this legislation is as just and as inclusive as possible. Failing to include LGBT equality in the bill sends the dangerous message that it is acceptable to continue to discriminate against certain groups of people. Same-sex bi-national couples should not be forced to choose between their love for America and their love for each other. These couples are our congregants, friends and leaders in our communities. As Judaism teaches us, they are created in the image of God, just like all people, and should be protected as equals by the law.” - Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice

“The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) will ensure what its title promises; namely uniting all American families regardless of their sexual orientation, abode, or socioeconomic status. Specifically, UAFA would give binational same-sex couples the same immigration rights afforded to heterosexual couples — including the right to petition for green cards for partners or spouses. UAFA must be an integral part of reforming our dysfunctional immigration laws to ensure fairness and equality by allowing U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex, foreign-born partners for immigration purposes. It’s the right thing to do and it is the best way to preserve the American values of family, unity, and equality.” – American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)

“CWS is strongly opposed to the bill’s provisions that would eliminate, 18 months after enactment, the ability for U.S. citizens to sponsor their brothers, sisters, and children who are married and over the age of 30. We will seek to restore both of these categories in the amendment process, as well as advocate for U.S. Citizens and greencard holders to be able to reunite with their same-sex partner.” – Church World Service

“I am a DREAM Act beneficiary and in a binational relationship. The inclusion of UAFA is about the recognition of our families and the end of a century-old exclusion of LGBT families in our community. Last night, as pieces of the bill’s text began to surface online, I held my husband tightly — knowing that the Gang of 8 had excluded our family from the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill. I know exactly what 40,000 families felt this morning when they saw that the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) was not included in the bill. Our community has fought hard for full recognition under the law in this country and our struggle for equality has not ended, but only just begun.” – Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, co-director of GetEQUAL

“We know all too well from California’s own transformation on the immigration issue that inclusion must triumph over exclusion and needlessly harsh and wasteful measures. When we measure today’s bill against this nation’s founding principle that all people are created equal, the proposal falls short in some key areas. Comprehensive reform should include all 11 million aspiring citizens, put a halt to painful deportations, and protect the fundamental principle of family unity, both by upholding family-based visas and recognizing LGBTQ families. Reform should also protect all workers, yet a provision to require all employers to check workers’ immigration status against the flawed ‘E-Verify system could lead to 90,000 pink slips for authorized workers just in California.” – California Immigrant Policy Center

“Our country has been built on the principle of Family Reunification and it is very unfortunate that the definition of family continues to omit LGBT Families. Same Sex binational couples have once again been ignored by Congress. The Senate has called the bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, but their compromise excluded same sex binational couples, forcing us to choose between our families and our country in order to stay together, this bill does not provide us with Economic Opportunity or a Modern Immigration Process. By excluding the more than 40,000 ame-sex binational couples, this bill is not inclusive – nor is it comprehensive. And it runs counter to the framework presented by President Obama, who proposed our inclusion in this bill back in January.” – Amos Lim, Out4Immigration

“On behalf of our nation’s thousands of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender immigrants, I commend the bi-partisan “Gang of 8” for introducing the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. This legislation is a huge step forward for our nation’s 11 million plus immigrants, many of whom identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and is particularly meaningful for many of these immigrants who live at the intersections of race, LGBT equality and their immigration status. In today’s hyper-polarized political climate, it is encouraging to see legislation offered that could significantly benefit members of our community whose issues are often relegated to the sidelines of our political process. However, while the bill establishes a meaningful path to citizenship for immigrants and new regulations that preserve the integrity of immigrant workers in our country, it is disappointing that LGBT families established by bi-national same-sex couples have still been left out of America’s promise for comprehensive immigration reform. This grievous omission underscores the need for Congress to take additional legislative action and provide equal treatment under the law to all American citizens through the Uniting American Families Act, which extends the right for an American citizen to sponsor their foreign-born partner for citizenship to committed, same-sex couples.” - Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director & CEO, National Black Justice Coalition

13 Responses to Allies Speak Out for LGBT Families in Immigration Reform

  1. Rowen Murphy Strange says:

    Its time to include all lesbian and gay citizens of the United States and their partners, wives and husbands in immigration reform. There are many of us living in other countries because of this continued discrimination. Our civil partnerships as well as marriages need to be recognised and included as a route to immigration for our spouses.

  2. Peter M. Snairh says:

    It is time for a change, not only for Gays and Lesbians, but also people that are in Transgender relationships. I cannot keep my partner here and it is just plain wrong. I love her and want to go old with her and I should not be denied the right to spend my life with whom ever I want. After all I am a citizen of this country!

  3. mike says:

    All of this support is nice, but its the bottom line that counts. We and our allies simply do not put enough money in the pockets of the senators. Just look at the Gun Control bill and the NRA, who has the deeper pockets? I just wonder how senators with children can go home and look into thier eyes and explain how the money from the deep pockets of the special interest groups are more important than their childs own safety. The congress has no vested interest in doing whats right for people like us. The only reason that the immagration bill is moving forward is so big business has a source of cheap labour, its was only after the unions and big business got on board with reform did it start to move forward. We will be thrown under the bus again, our only hope is for the courts to throw out DOMA.

  4. Alex P. says:

    It’s time for change. It has to happen now. I have been with my partner for 14 years. We are civil partners under British law, but I do not earn enough to bring her here. Due to disability limiting what I can do, although I work full time, I’ve not been able to earn much above minimum wage, which is only around half of what British law required me to earn if I want to sponsor her here. However, she has a very good job in the States and earns more than enough to bring me there if I was legally eligible. She visited me briefly in the UK last month and I had to say goodbye to her yet again. Our visits are becoming shorter and further apart due to work and the cost of flights. All I want is to be with her for the remainder of my days. 14 years is long enough. Let us, and the other couples like us, have our futures together at last.

  5. Don George says:

    Bravo to all these leaders and their organizations advocating for our LGBT families to be included in Comprehensive Immigration Reform. After all, it isn’t comprehensive if one group is deliberately left out. It’s immoral. It’s wrong. If you, all your relatives and all your friends have not yet called both your US Senators to tell them LGBT families must be included in a CIR, do it today, do it right now!

  6. Ralph says:

    Again, United American Families Act has been around since 2000. Senator Leahy should be urged to pass it.

  7. Ralph says:

    Read the recent U.S Department Of State 2012 country report item no. 5. All it has been is talk no action.

  8. Scott Downer says:

    Ask our Leaders ” Who do you work for ? I hope for America and the foundation of its Constitution and how it works . Same sex marriage will give terrorist a new tool to come to America. We as Americans have a root to happiness and the change of time should not change the foundation of our Constitution . Not when our own worriers ” veterans and there Families wait for their entitlements they have earned and can not receive because of No Data . How you gonna do background checks on Guns if we can not protect our Rights and Vets

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  12. I think now we must take a change. we change our minds. Immigration Reforms is good sign for Change. Immigration reforms is good for the USA Progress and Immigrants as well.

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