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From Andrew Sullivan, via Zaheer at Immigration Equality's blog:

"There is a gaping hole in the Times' coverage of the same-sex marriage issue: Any state recognition of same-sex couples applies only to couples who are both U.S. citizens.  Heterosexual citizens have the right to marry foreign partners and bring them legally into the country with the right to live and work and even seek citizenship. Homosexual citizens don't have that right; they must either choose another citizen as a partner or leave the country in order to be with their foreign partners. I know this issue intimately because both my children have foreign partners. My heterosexual daughter was able to marry and give her foreign partner the right to live here. My homosexual son can't do that, and his partner isn't even allowed to enter the U.S., so he has no choice but to live in his partner's country. The people who claim to be protecting families are not doing anything to protect mine. Instead, they've torn it apart. I wish the Times would cover that aspect of the gay marriage issue because there are thousands of American families affected by it," - a mother of a gay son, commenting on the story on Governor David Paterson's decision to treat gay citizens married in other states no differently than straight ones.

Immigration Equality explains the problem in a nutshell:

Binational couples refers to couples in which the partners come from different countries. Although 16 nations around the world allow their citizens to sponsor their same sex partners for immigration benefits, unfortunately, the United States does not recognize our relationships for immigration purposes. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, even same sex couples which have been legally married in Massachusetts, California, Canada, the Netherlands, or Belgium, will not be able to immigrate based on their marriage. Every day we hear from desperate couples, forced to choose between the partner they love and the country they love, which is why we are fighting to change the immigration law and end this discrimination.

What is the solution?  Passing the Uniting American Families Act ("UAFA").  From Immigration Equality's FAQ on the bill:

What is the Uniting American Families Act?

The Uniting American Families Act ("UAFA" and formerly known as the Permanent Partners Immigration Act or "PPIA") is a bill that if passed, would provide a mechanism under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to allow U.S. citizens (USCs) and legal permanent residents (LPRs) in binational same-sex relationships to sponsor their foreign born partner for immigration benefits to the U.S. 

. . .

How is a permanent partnership defined?

Under the UAFA, to qualify as a permanent partner, a person must be able to show: (a) a relationship with another adult in which both parties intend a life-long commitment; (b) financial interdependence; (c) exclusivity; (d) inability to marry in a manner that is "cognizable" under the INA; and (e) absence of close blood relationship.

Why is the UAFA necessary?

One of the primary objectives of the INA is to encourage family unification. Like any other non-citizen, a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individual may immigrate to the U.S. as the parent of a USC or the child or sibling of a USC or LPR. But being someone's parent, child, or sibling is an incident of birth beyond the individual's control. Thus, gay and lesbian immigration rights for same sex binational couples focuses on the spousal (partnership) relationship, which is the primary relationship adult individuals can enter voluntarily. Many adult gay and lesbian individuals fall in love with a foreign national of the same sex and seek to build a life and family with that individual. U.S. immigration law does not recognize same-sex relationships, however, and this discriminatory practice often forces the couple to separate or move abroad in order to stay together. The UAFA seeks to fulfill the promise of family unification in the U.S. immigration system by extending immigration eligibility to the foreign-born partners of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent resident partners.

How many couples in the U.S. are in binational same sex relationships?

6% of the 594,391 same-sex "unmarried partners" counted in the 2000 census include one citizen and one non-citizen. This means that there were an estimated 35,820 same-sex, binational couples in the United States at the time of the census whose relationships were not recognized under U.S. immigration law. These couples continue to face the threat of one member's removal from the United States.

Additionally, 27,546 same-sex "unmarried partners" reported as "both non-citizens" according to the 2000 census.  The census only provides categories for citizen and non-citizen and it is likely that many couples who reported as "both non-citizen" contain at least one LPR and thus would benefit from the passage of the PPIA.

Overall, a total of 63,366 same-sex "unmarried partners" have one or more partner who is a non-citizen.  This figure is over 10% of the overall 594,391 total couples who reported as same-sex "unmarried partners" to the 2000 census. 

The FAQ also explains how the UAFA addresses fraud concerns that the government cites when defending its decision to deny immigration benefits to same-sex partners. 

Find out how to take action on this issue here.

[Cross posted at the Sanctuary.]


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This page contains a single entry by David Bennion published on June 4, 2008 11:34 PM.

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