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Lesbian & Gay Immigrant Families Abandoned During Judiciary Committee Immigration Mark-up

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For Immediate Release
May 21, 2013                                                                           

Contact:  Steve Ralls
(202) 347-7007 / sralls@immigrationequality.org


Lesbian & Gay Immigrant Families Abandoned During Judiciary Committee Immigration Mark-up

Despite Leadership From Chairman Leahy, Democrats Cave To Threats & Bullying By GOP Colleagues

WASHINGTON, DC – Following months of threats and pressure by some Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced today he is withholding amendments to the immigration bill that would end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) immigrant families. In recent weeks, GOP Senators Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake, Marco Rubio, and John McCain have sought to scapegoat LGBT families, promising to abandon immigration reform entirely if it was amended to include LGBT protections.

“Despite the leadership of Chairman Leahy, Judiciary Committee Democrats have caved to bullying by their Republican colleagues,” said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality Action Fund. “There should be shame on both sides of the political aisle today for lawmakers who worked to deny LGBT immigrant families a vote. Despite widespread support from business, labor, faith, Latino and Asian-American advocates, Senators abandoned LGBT families without a vote.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, an architect of the immigration bill, had long promised LGBT constituents that the package would include their families.  “From the beginning we told Senator Schumer that it would only get harder to add LGBT families to the bill,” said Tiven.  “We are disappointed that Senator Schumer and his ‘Gang of 8’ colleagues accepted a false choice between LGBT families and immigration reform, when the truth is that including LGBT families from the outset would have strengthened the bill.”

Republican senators looking for a reason to walk away from the bill scapegoated LGBT families. “Republicans came after LGBT families, and Democrats didn’t stand up,” Tiven said. “Who will be in the GOP’s sights next?”

“Senators have lined up in recent months to proclaim their support for marriage equality and LGBT rights,” Tiven added. “Yet, given the first opportunity to put their vote where their talking point is, they failed. Our families need deeds, not words.”

An estimated 36,000 couples who are raising more than 25,000 children within the United States (and countless others already living in exile) are impacted by the inability to sponsor their spouse or partner for residency under current immigration law. Senator Leahy’s proposed amendments would have allowed all of those families an opportunity to remain permanently together in the United States.

As former Republican Congressman Jim Kolbe of Arizona noted in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, “Including this provision would place virtually no additional burden on our immigration system.  For those families and their children, however, UAFA’s inclusion in the…bill would make all the difference in the world.”

For more information, visit www.ImmigrationEquality.org and www.ImEqActionFund.org.

# # #

Immigration Equality Action Fund advocates on Capitol Hill for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive immigrants and their families. To end discrimination in U.S. immigration law, Immigration Equality Action Fund works to pass the Uniting American Families Act and LGBT-inclusive Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The Action Fund lobbies legislators and other policy makers, builds coalitions, and empowers LGBT immigrant families around the country to fight for change.


58 Responses to Lesbian & Gay Immigrant Families Abandoned During Judiciary Committee Immigration Mark-up

  1. Abdul says:

    Sad day..

  2. SteveP says:

    Sad news…I’m heartbroken. We’re one of those 36,000 families that were counting on this. Now I read that even repealing DOMA might not be the solution we were hoping for. Very upset….

  3. Undisguised GOP contempt for the LGBT minority as a disliked, disapproved of underclass, has once again prevailed, as we always knew it would. What is on the table now, is immigation INequality.

    We have been discarded, thrown under the bus. Our families and dreams, ambitions count for nothing. This is part two of the backlash spearheaded by point blank shameless murder of a gay man in New York and the 30% increase in violent anti-gay assaults. There is worse to come.

    The GOP is a political party for white, Christian, heterosexual, male Americans and no-one else. They are the KKK in suits.

  4. Peter M. Snaith says:

    I am affected by this, my TS Girl and I cannot be together because no one in Washington as the balls to do the right thing! I am so tired of empty promises from both sides of the coin. President Obama and all the others that supported this bill should be ashamed! You have made given us hope, and in the last minute pulled the rug out from underneath us! You have shown us that none of you are worth our votes, not the democrats or the republicans! If you look back in history in this country, we have discriminated again, the American Indian, Italians, Irish, Asian, Jews, and the African Americans just to name a few. Why do we not see this and learn from our past mistakes! We all should have the same rights period!

  5. Pat says:

    Now what? That’s the end of it… Is there still a chance for the amendment to be included?? What are the chances?

  6. steve rosenberger says:

    Steve – why wouldn’t SCOTUS striking down DOMA not be an instant solution to this? If the federal government cannot treat gay and straight marriages differently, then it could not have/keep immigration restrictions that discriminate against legally married gay couples. Or so I thought. I was just about to send a tweet saying the Court will kill DOMA before any immigration legislation can pass Congress. That might even be the rationale behind the Senate Dems letting it move on without LGBT inclusion. Educate me on this, please.

    • Charley says:

      I believe if DOMA is struck down then DHS will have to recognize marriages valid in those states where it is the law. So bi-national couples living in states other than those will need to re-locate to avail themselves of the possibility for green ards.

  7. Lester Alfonso says:

    Why can’t we do the same? Marco Rubio threatened to walk away from the bill if it included LGBT provisions, I hope Rachel Tiven will do the same now and work to derail the bill as written. We can play the same game. Its time you all stop laying down and playing dead.

  8. Leo Welt says:

    I was reading this story on Yahoo just now and it concerns me more too.


    In the last few paragraphs, the story mentions that even after DOMA gets repealed, Congress still needs to do something else… I thought repealing DOMA was all we needed. Can someone comment on this?

    I want my partner with me now. We’ve all waited enough.

  9. David Colton says:

    The courts have always given great deference to Congress on matters of immigration. Depending on how narrowly the court rules on DOMA there may still need to be action by the congress. Fat chance of that happening! We got screwed by Democratic Senators. Do not provide them with an excuse!

  10. Luke says:

    Leo far as I know, with DOMA strike down, and if you get married in one of those states the same sex marriage has been already legalize, your america husband or wife, will be able to sponsor the foreign same sex couple, for immigration will be enough!

  11. Amanda says:

    I’ve read that article on National Journal too. Can someone please comment about that? Is overturning DOMA enough?

  12. Leo Welt says:

    Thanks, Luke. These matters are complex to grasp. I have been in a relationship for over 10 years and married in DC for about 1 1/2 years. Fingers crossed.

  13. Luke says:

    Leo I have 10 years on a wonderful relationship me too, and this matter to us, so much, we live in a pending life, this is not right, and no one have to be discriminate for who love!

  14. Chung says:

    We are simply not powerful enough to make noises. What is frustrating is that even with DOMA being overturned, why is there still a possibility of needing the fucking “congressional” approval to grant same sex couples green cards? This is not over, we have to form our coalitions and fight. DOMA is our last hope for now, if DOMA is overturned, we should be able to apply for green cards if you get married in a state that allows gay marriage, period. This whole notion of needing congressional approval is unconstitutional, unfair, and discriminatory. How long do we have to wait? UAFA is dead, now, we got thrown under the bus again by politicians. DOMA is our last hope. We just have to wait until the Supreme Court’s ruling next month.

  15. Chung says:

    Unfortunately, we still need dems to help us, We can’t turn our back because there is no options. You want to cave in to GOP? We have to help ourselves. DOMA is the key.

  16. Cas says:

    Is there another way to work around this? I still have to pay taxes even though I don’t have rights. Is this okay with Americans? Is it that we are not counted ? Are we so small that our notes don’t count? How long are they going to toy with us? IS it that are votes are not distributed in a way that we would get representation? Who is representing us? How do we get a voice? What can the LGBT community do to get representation? How long will it go on that we are only given the rights that are generic and yet excluded on laws that would protect us from discrimination? It seems to be Okay to exclude but not include. 1/3 of my income goes abroad. No tax deduction for that.

  17. Luke says:

    GLAD’s two DOMA lawsuits challenging the discrimination that married same-sex couples experience because of Section 3 of DOMA do not address the plight of same-sex binational couples. GLAD consulted with immigration organizations and immigration attorneys about whether we could make immigration part of these cases, and everyone agreed that it was too risky both politically and legally. GLAD believes that a victory in these lawsuits will eventually lead to an elimination of all of Section 3 of DOMA for the good of everyone, including binational couples, and these lawsuits will bring about that day earlier than if we had not filed. For more information about these lawsuits go to http://www.glad.org/doma.

  18. Luke says:

    ONE MORE THINK Why Is It Important To Get Rid Of Section 3 Of DOMA? It’s important to get rid of DOMA Section 3 for two reasons: (1) DOMA causes real, concrete harm to legally married same-sex couples and their families. With more than 1,000 federal laws and programs at issue, DOMA’s harm is vast. DOMA denies pensions to the surviving spouses of federal employees, prevents spouses from taking Family Medical Leave to care for one another during serious illness, separates binational couples, denies military spouses support and benefits, and costs thousands of dollars for families when spouses cannot file federal taxes jointly as married; and (2) DOMA singles out gay people and our relationships as unequal, thus inviting discrimination from others and telling our children that their families are second class.

  19. SteveP says:

    Hi Steve. The information I read in this story (link below) made it sound like immigration law as currently codified will have to be changed even if DOMA is found unconstitutional. It says it would require an act of Congress or another court battle to get that current language removed. So discouraging….sounds like even if DOMA is overturned we could be back to the courts….Congress will never pass such a thing in its current make-up. http://news.yahoo.com/immigration-bills-last-hurdle-tonight-gay-rights-161010866.html

  20. Christophe Lepage says:

    My boyfriend Bo are a bi national couple and we live separated in our respective countries. He is American and I am French. Of course, we are devastated by this news and feel that the LGBT community has been thrown under the bus. Déjà vu over and over again, no? As much as we are upset and bitter today, we have to pick ourselves up and keep fighting. We believe that our relationship and our love will prevail some day over the dirty politics.

  21. andrew says:

    They had to do it–otherwise we would have more tornados

  22. Ellen M.H.Mitchell says:

    I cannot believe I just sent a thank you note praising Senator Leahy (with pictures of our son and our wedding). I feel like I’ve been tricked. My letters to Senator Schumer and Sessions must not have arrived. How could they resist giving safety and security to my adorable son? Or are they heartless opportunists? Or simply cowards? I’ll never know I guess. But I will be sure to send money to whomever stands up for us and send my letter full of righteous wrath to those who didn’t. I wonder if I can ask for my money back from those who promised and did not follow through?

  23. paul bear says:

    If Doma is overturned in June will this change? I feel so lost right now and can’t believe my country is trying to keep me away from the one I love. Any advice is appreciated

  24. Elizabeth REDDY says:

    Wow, I also have been under the impression that a ruling against DOMA in June would spell relief for binational same-sex couples who cannot currently sponsor their partners for immigration. Our family is living in secret in Africa with constant concern that my partner will not get a tourist visa any time we would like to go visit family or even receive medical care in the U.S. It’s hard to even begin to describe all the sacrifices we’ve made…and I know we are just one of SO MANY couples struggling with these same challenges. I was trying to hope against hope that this might change in June. Please can someone with a legal background comment on the above posts and what this might mean for us even if the courts do rule to strike down DOMA in June??? Thanks….

  25. David Gilmore says:

    Open the jails and make room for congress.

  26. Frank says:

    Time and time again the Democrats abandon LBGT community. Schumer is only the latest example of that. Don’t forget in 1996 he voted for DOMA with many of his cohorts. So his hands were dirty on this issue already. The Dems simply did the math: Gay and Lesbian Americans represent at most 10% of the population, and this issue impacts an even smaller portion of Americans. Schumer & Co. looked at the fast-growing number of Hispanic votes they could get with a group that’s at least twice the size of LBGTs and caved. I’m sure he’ll be hailed as “pragmatic” by his colleagues. In Washington, money counts. So LBGTs must withhold any financial support to Schumer and support a more gay-friendly candidate when he’s up for re-election in 2016. In the meantime, this simply reinforces why civil rights aren’t an issue that belong up for “vote.” It belongs in the courts. Justice Kennedy, are you listening?

  27. Casey says:

    I’ve been living in exile with my partner for almost 10 years and I have to say that this news is incredibly disappointing. Even more disappointing is the fact that even if DOMA is struck down there may be additional votes required to give the green light for sponsorships. I hope that Immigration Equality can shed some light on what we can expect going forward as I feel many of us are confused about the situation.

  28. joshinchicago says:

    State of residence will not have any bearing on green card eligibility if DOMA is struck down. Unlike some other provisions of federal law that focus on the state of residence, moreover, the government looks to whether a marriage was valid where entered into when determining whether a marriage is valid for immigration purposes. Because of this, even a same-sex couple in Texas or Michigan would only need to find a way to travel to a state where marriage is legal in order to marry and be eligible for equal green card treatment.

  29. Sandra says:

    We’re another couple living in exile in Europe. We also have high hopes that DOMA will be struck down in June. However, we had no idea that this wouldn’t give us any benefits right away. Reading this info here is very confusing and disheartening. Is this actually what lawyers are saying that even if DOMA is struck down, it would still require an act of Congress to give same-sex binational couples immigration rights? Because if that’s the case, it could take years and years until this will happen considering the current make up of Congress (and also considering that obviously not all Dems are on our side and are willing to vote against us).

  30. Pingback: From the Committee to the Senate Floor: The Immigration Bill Survives! | Lifted Lamp

  31. Pingback: SJC to Same-Sex Binational Couples: Go Fuck Yourselves | The Deportee's Wife

  32. Gerry says:


    I could kick myself for supporting the Dems to represent us, and as for Obama he is just as bad with his false promises. We have to hit them where it hurts with our votes and cash. I am writing to all the ” GREAT” congressmen that have endorsed the fact that discrimination is alive and well in the US.

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  36. Joe says:

    ATTENTION LAVI SOLOWAY: Please, please give us some clarification. Your youtube podcast suggested that if DOMA is struck down, binational couples could marry in a state that recognizes same sex marriage and that we could sponsor our foreign born loved ones. This is NOT what the article below says. PLEASE GIVE US CLARIFICATION!! THANK YOU.


  37. Jessica says:

    To all the people worrying about not receiving immediate federal benefits if DOMA is struck down. You can breathe and relax. Here is a more reliable source, The Washington Post. It included information that says if DOMA is struck down, it will resolve our immigration issue and we will be able to receive federal benefits.


  38. Tom Plummer says:

    The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on DOMA’s constitutionality in Windsor v. United States with a decision expected by the end of June. While we have no way of knowing what the outcome will be, if the Court strikes down DOMA, we do expect that gay and lesbian Americans will be able to sponsor their foreign partners for U.S. residency shortly thereafter. In a world without DOMA, no further legislative authorization should be necessary for the U.S. government to extend family-based immigration benefits to married same-sex binational couples.

    We are pursuing equality for our families on all fronts, through efforts in Congress, in the courts and with the White House. We continue to push for inclusion of gay and lesbian families in comprehensive immigration reform through Congress, in large part, because there are no guarantees about how the Supreme Court will rule in Windsor, but we remain optimistic and believe that either a final ruling from the Supreme Court or the inclusion of gay and lesbian families in Comprehensive Immigration Reform would achieve equality for the vast majority of same-sex binational couples.

  39. Tom Plummer says:

    See my response below — I’m one of Immigration Equality’s binational couple staff attorneys.

  40. Ryan Davis says:

    Thanks for that Tom. This is so stressful.

  41. Pingback: LGBT groups slam same-sex couples’ exclusion from immigration reform – Raw Story | LGBT Indonesia

  42. Elena Ruiz says:

    Durbin was may be the only Senator I trusted and supported. Not anymore, sweety. My partner for the last 10 years is 56 y/o and she has to work 70 hours a week to support me because I don’t have a green card. It breaks my heart to see her working 7 days a week, she cannot save for her retirement and it makes me feel absolutely useless. I have a Bachelor’s Degree and an impressive resume from my country. Here I take care of 2 cats and a dog 24/7 and, of course, no income= no taxes. Is it a good business for the USA? Please, email us and tell us what will happen to us now. I agree with Steve Rosemberg.

  43. Mac says:

    My understanding is that the Federal Government see S3 of DOMA as the obstruction. The way that the DHS presents the information on its website, once that obstruction is removed, their policy can be amended. I think we can be reasonably certain that this is the desired policy outcome.

    It’s going to be a long four weeks, but all we have is hope.

  44. Nobody says:

    striking down DOMA is no guarantee of anything with regard to immigration. at least not right away. it’ll hardly make it possible to waltz into our local immigration office the next day and file our papers. there’s still a lot of bureaucracy that would need to happen. after 20+ years of this bs, we have no faith in any of this. is it any wonder we’re clinically depressed? suicidal? downright pissed off and beaten down? tell me again how you’ve got our backs dems, because we ain’t feelin it. DOMA? HA! who gives a damn anymore. we’re still a looooooooong way off from anything real happening that will actually impact our lives personally. and at this point, old, physically broken and mentally fried and completely apathetic, there’s no reason to think it’d make much difference anymore anyways.

  45. Luke says:

    Every one please! if you read the post above of Tom Plummer, you should not be worry at least for DOMA. Still have Hope, ok!

  46. Sandra says:

    Can anyone please clarify what will happen in case SCOTUS dismisses the DOMA case altogether? I read that this could very well happen. They don’t even have to decide on it at all.

  47. Nobody says:

    why this issue is important to us:

  48. Nobody says:

    our blog – why this issue is important to us:


  49. Jamur Wysocki says:

    Guys I can not believe what the most of you are saying. DOMA will be repealed and the path to go through (getting permanent residency and citizenship) will be faster and easier than if we would have to go through the new immigration system… Just calm down :-)

  50. giulia says:

    On UAFA the Dems have behaved poorly. UAFA could have been solved with a Presidential Executive Order. OBAMA signs one every two weeks or so and reading the subject of some of them it makes me really upset. If it is true that gay America tops 10% of the entire population lets stop voting and giving funds to the Democrats as they are not on our side! We can make them win or loose an election. Time to remind them?

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  52. Andrew says:

    To Nobody — thank you very much for the link to your story and for trying to put into words experiences that are hard to explain and treatment that is so isolating. We have begun reading it and it brings back many heartfelt experiences for both of us. What trying years these have been. Something has to change…

  53. Kelly says:

    My partner and I are a bination couple. I can say this is one of the most stressful and depressing issues for us to go through. We’ve been together for 2 1/2 years, and now I’m away from her over a year because of immigration issues. I left the U.S. because I was out of status and I didn’t see any promises from the government to overturn DOMA. Recently, my sister got engaged and they are getting married. She just got her approval on her green card because they are heterosexual couple. I’m happy for her, but sad at the same time for my partner and I. It is unfair! Why can’t we get the same benefits as heterosexual couples? Instead of being with the one I love, DOMA has separated us. It has been the most difficult year ever since I left. This long distance relationship is really hard to sustain. We are just regular people that want to spend the rest of our lives with the ones we chose to love. As of now, I can only wait and hope…

  54. Nobody says:

    Hello – Andrew — thanks for your kind words. I was actually having a borderline schizophrenic response to posting our story, and kept deleting the blog and then putting it back. But I came back here on a whim and saw your comment, and it’s making me feel like maybe posting the story is the right thing to do. It’s just hard to believe anyone actually cares. I reposted the entire book, save 1 chapter, under a new blog. Feel free to read and share. I will do my best not to have another panic attack that someone is actually reading about me, even anonymously. It’s a little hard for me to process after being in the shadows for 23 years. I truly don’t feel like a full-fledged human being sharing this earth with the rest of its inhabitants. I’m not so sure that becoming legal, in and of itself, would do much to repair the fractured to my self-worth and psyche, caused by decades of living like this, basically in total isolation. Anyway, here’s the link to the book: http://gayillegalimmigrant.blogspot.com

    eBook: Illegal Immigrant, Illegal Love – Our 20+ Year Struggle for Gay Immigration Equality

    I changed the title. Just seemed more on point.

  55. Thank You says:

    Dear Nobody, I don’t know if you will check back to this page again, but I wanted to say thank you for sharing your story. Nothing has ever captured in words the details of what life has been like these last years the way your story has. It relieves some of the isolation and pain to know anyone understands. Over these last 15 years, I have developed fear when the doorbell rings, fear when the mail comes, fear when meeting strangers and making social introductions and on and on because I do not want to be forcibly separated from my partner by some accident which would cause her to be deported. I am American. My partner is undocumented from a pretty wealthy country with no “community” of undocumented people, so people are very uncomfortable with our situation both from her side and my side. Plus, in the past, before the small awareness of our plight under DOMA that is beginning now, noone really felt compassion if we were separated since it was not financially imperative that my partner remained in the country as an undocumented immigrant. Nowadays, there is more understanding, but there was a time when we were traumatized from the dismissive treatment even from local LGBT groups who saw us as a non-priority. It has been psychologically damaging. Even now, our situation is given low priority from the national LGBT groups, so there is a lack of understanding of the prison we lived in under DOMA.

  56. Thank You says:

    My partner pointed out to me that I had used “undocumented” in my reply, a word she also doesn’t feel applies to herself since as binational couples DOMA made our love illegal. Your use of the word illegal truly recognizes the way our love and remaining together is simply illegal. It’s very REAL for us.

  57. Nobody aka Ralph Torjan says:

    Hello “Thank You” – and thanks to you for your comment. I have truly been going back and forth on if I should post my book online. Like you and your partner, we also believe the word ‘illegal’ is a more accurate descriptor of our relationship than ‘undocumented.’ Truthfully, it has been very difficult for me to process the word ‘illegal’ all these years, and yet, it is exactly how I feel. It’s a stigma, for sure, and whenever I saw the name of the blog I created, that word was always a smack to the face whenever I saw it, even though I’m the one who typed those words. However, now that DOMA is dead, I no longer feel limited by that word. We have hired an immigration attorney, our case for immigration actually looks promising. That’s very hard to process after decades of being ‘illegal’ The day DOMA died, the gay community cheered and cried with joy. We cheered and cried in our household too, but I was also getting searing migraines, heart palpitations and all sorts of other PTSD and anxiety symptoms. It was, and still is, very overwhelming. There’s a battle going on in my head between my ‘illegal’ psyche and my newly liberated reality. It has been hard to process. I keep wanting to slip back into the mindset of an illegal, while also trying to figure out who I really am now. I’ve decided to change my name and sever ties with the person I used to be. That seems to be helping. As far as the book I wrote, I’ve decided I owe it to myself to try and get it published, and have closed down the original blog. I don’t know if an agent or publisher will be interested. But I’m going to try. It’s not about money, though that would be helpful. It’s really about wanting to get this story out there. We have the audacity to think it’s important enough to share. But we do thank you for your support and kind words. it’s been hard to know what the right thing to do is. Bu then, that’s no different than these past 23 years. Maybe this will lead to better understanding and healing for people. Or, it would be nice if that could be true.

    3 days before DOMA died, my homophobic brother wrote me to tell me he would not be granting me my mother’s full inheritance to me, and that if I didn’t drop it, he’d try to have me deported and ‘bring down my house of cards.’. Nice family I have huh? Particularly disturbing since he knows I am caregiver to my wheelchair bound husband. So I posted one of my book’s chapters about my family to a new blog, and emailed them all a link to it so they could be confronted with the truth. Well, my phone rang for the first time in 5 years, with nonstop calls from my siblings. I disconnected the answering machine and just let it ring. They called dozens of times over that weekend, but were unable to leave me a message. I know they weren’t calling to tell me how much they love me. And they’d told me many times throughout my life what they truly thought of their fa**ot brother, so there was no need to listen to more of their bigoted hate. If I had the courage to listen to more of it, I should have just let them leave their hateful messages and them posted the audio to You Tube so everyone could hear the truth about them for themselves. And the saddest part of all, is all 3 of my siblings are university educated — proving that it IS possible to be educated, yet still be a total moron at the same time. *sigh*

    Here’s a link to that chapter:

    I will do some minimal exploration into getting this book of mine published. But it’s a very difficult thing to get anyone to care enough about the subject to publish it, or even buy and read the end product. I may well just be posting it all back to a blog. Time will tell. Anyway, I just wanted to wish you and your partner all the best; as well as to ALL binational couples who finally have reason to HOPE

    Much LOVE.

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