<  Who We Are

Our History

Since our founding over 25 years ago, Immigration Equality has fought and won giant victories in the halls of Congress, in the arena of public opinion, and in the federal courts. This has been true no matter which party was in power or which person occupied the White House.  

Our Roots

In 1994, a group of LGBTQ attorneys formed the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force, which would later become Immigration Equality. At the time, it had been only four years since the U.S. government lifted its ban on “homosexual” immigrants from entering the country. It was also the first year that the Justice Department formally recognized sexual orientation as a fundamentally protected human right for refugees. 

25+ Years of Immigration Equality

1994: Three passionate volunteer attorneys form Immigration Equality to advocate for LGBTQ and HIV-positive immigrants

1996: The Defense of Marriage Act is passed into law, prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex marriages

1997: We open our national headquarters in New York City

2000: Congress introduces our signature bill— Permanent Partners Immigration Act— to permit green cards for U.S. citizens with same-sex immigrant partners

2006: Immigration Equality releases landmark report titled Family, Unvalued exposing the harms of immigration discrimination against same-sex binational couples

2010: Immigration Equality and coalition partners succeed in pushing Congress to overturn the decades-old ban on immigration for people living with HIV

2012: Immigration Equality sues the U.S. government on behalf of five same-sex couples, calling for an end to the Defense of Marriage Act

2013: In case of United States v. Edie Windsor, Supreme Court declares Defense of Marriage Act ban on federal recognition of same-sex couples unconstitutional

2015: Supreme Court declares in Obergefell v.Hodges that no state can prohibit same-sex marriage

2017: Immigration Equality marks its 1,000th asylum win.

2019: Immigration Equality wins victory against the State Department in federal court, affirming U.S. citizenship of two-year-old Ethan Dvash-Banks, who was denied citizenship because his parents are gay

2020: Immigration Equality launches our detention program to provide free legal services to LGBTQ people in immigration detention centers nationwide.

2021: Immigration Equality and partners block Trump administration’s “death to asylum” rule from going into effect.

In response to our impact litigation, the U.S. State Department ends a policy that treated children born abroad of married same-sex U.S.-citizen parents as born “out-of-wedlock.”

2022: Immigration Equality identified, vetted, and referred more than 60 Afghan refugees for resettlement in Canada. So far, one third of them have gained refugee status.