Menendez Immigration Bill Includes Gay Rights Provision

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Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 10:25 am

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill yesterday, including a somewhat controversial provision to extend family-based immigration for same-sex couples. If passed — it’s unclear whether even the reform bill could — the provision could help some of the estimated 24,000 gay and lesbian couples in the U.S. that include at least one foreign partner.

The Uniting American Families Act establishes rights of same-sex couples to bring their foreign partners to the U.S. Under the current system, straight couples can petition for their foreign-born husbands or wives to move to the U.S. as legal residents, but gay and lesbians are denied the ability to petition for foreign partners — even in states that allow gay marriage.

There was some question over whether comprehensive immigration reform would include the measure. Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Mike Honda (D-Calif.) have pushed for the Uniting American Families Act to be included in comprehensive reform legislation, claiming it could broaden the support base for the bill.

But while many Catholic and other religious organizations support immigration reform, some argue they cannot support a bill with gay rights measures. “That would be a deal-breaker,” J. Kenneth Blackwell, a senior fellow at the evangelical Family Research Council, told the New York Times in July when asked about including same-sex family reunification in an immigration bill.

While it’s unclear whether this bill will go anywhere, advocates of gay rights and immigration reform applauded the inclusion of the Uniting American Families Act to Menendez’s bill.

“Senator Menendez’s bill will set the stage, in this Congress and the next, for a serious debate on fixing our broken immigration system,” Steve Ralls from the pro-LGBT Immigration Equality told The Advocate.

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Comments

48 Comments

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Sandy Bear
Comment posted September 30, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

Typical BS from the “Family” folks. They are SUCH Christians. Don't let gays and lesbians have shit for a life…but they sure do love us, don't they?


Theresa
Comment posted September 30, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

A “deal breaker”? What deal? They aren't in congress, how do they have any influence and say in anything? Who cares if the support the bill, they don't get to decide on it.


guest
Comment posted September 30, 2010 @ 4:37 pm

I feel that as a Straight Multinational Couple who would benefit from serious family based reform, that husbands and wifes have more rights than boyfriends and girlfriends. That said I also feel that LGBT couples should have the right to marry. If immigration did not discriminate between same sex and opposite sex, then those LGBT couples who are married, should be able to apply for benefits and for fiancee visas. All 50 states should allow marriage between any couple as long as the couple is of age and are doing so by free will. I welcome a FAMILY bill that doesn't stereotype what constitutes a family. I just personally feel that immigration should be for married couples and fiancees. I may be easier to get states to acknowledge same sex couples and allow them to marry and then legally married couples LGBT or not should not be denied.


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Terry
Comment posted September 30, 2010 @ 4:49 pm

You can't have it both ways. 24K vs 11 million? Who stands to lose more. The 24K can go fight for the rights on a different arena. When last did you see gay people support the immigrant community? And as for they don't get to decide, America was founding on Christian beliefs, the people that make the laws 99% stand for that.


Kenny Hilljr
Comment posted September 30, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

I am 1/2 of a Gay Binational couple and COMPLETELY disagree with you. State by State or even National Marriage Equality may be YEARS away. THOUSANDS of us face immediate deportation, or send TENS of THOUSANDS of $$$$$ keeping our partners in university on student visas just so they can stay in the country. UAFA does not take away current immigration. It only adds the word Permanent Partner. The term Permanent Partner is defined with EXACTLY the same guidelines and requirements (i.e. financial responsibility, life time commitment) AND consequences for fraud that the current language includes. Understand fully before you speak!


Kenny Hilljr
Comment posted September 30, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

Ms Foley, please check your facts. As of the 2000 US Census – there were over 36,000 LGBT bi-national couples NOT 24,000. AND that was TEN years ago!


lazdijai
Comment posted September 30, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

That's the problem, majority gets what it wants, while minority is allowed to suffer unnecessarily. If someone told you, Terry, that you had to leave your dying partner (https://www.washingtonblade.com/2010/09/17/gay-cancer-patient-struggles-to-bring-partner-to-u-s/) because you can't live in this country, would you take it because you are one of 24K (which in reality is closer to 36K) and you don't matter as much as those 11 million? Try to see the world through the eyes of others and think about how inequality would affect you, if you were in their place.


Quietis
Comment posted September 30, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

Unfortunately the Defense of Marriage Act prevents federal recognition of same sex marriages. So people are free to get married in a state where it's legal, but the government DOES NOT recognize that relationship for immigration purposes. The federal government does not recognize the relationship as “marriage” which is why it is termed permanent partner in the bill.


LGBT friend
Comment posted September 30, 2010 @ 6:44 pm

I understand fully that straight married couples face the same problems that gay permanent partners do as far as immigration. But the fighting point is that immigration currently recognizes “Married” couples so it seems it would be easier for a clarification of “marriage” especially when there are states that do allow same sex marriages. But if you are screaming for equality, YOU (Kenny Hilljr) should fully understand before you speak, because to grant permanent partner status for LGBT couples, you would have to grant it for straight couples and then why be married? The level of fraud would increase. The sanctity of marriage, whether gay or straight should still be respected. I am on your side of it, have to deal with the same BS, so think before you bash.


Jlenoconel
Comment posted September 30, 2010 @ 6:54 pm

Why should gay people have to suffer and not be granted the same basic rights as their straight counterpart. I don't know how ANYONE can argue about this bill and say its not just. Immigration is one of the most basic human rights in the world if it concerns families.


Jennifer
Comment posted September 30, 2010 @ 7:10 pm

Right now several of our allied nations have permanent partner classification for immigration purposes. There are proven ways to prevent fraud, and we can look at some of the ways our allies do it for implementation if need be. Because of the defense of marriage act the immigration system refuses to recognize any same gender marriage from any state or country. UAFA would require proof of a lifetime commitment, and does not in any way have language changing the definition of marriage, which is what the fundamentist divisions of the religious right state they are fighting against. This bl should not be an issue. The only reason to say it's a “deal breaker” is purely based on hatred for gay people. This bill would most truly not affect anyone other than the binational couples. Our immigration system is as a whole so restrictive that in most cases there are no other visas available for people in this situation and couples and families are literally torn apart. There is nothing more cruel that being forced to live separately from those you love simply be because here are laws in place that force separation for reason other than gender. This bill is long overdue.


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Binational Couple
Comment posted October 1, 2010 @ 2:27 am

I think it should be pointed out that foreigners working in the USA have more rights in this area than citizens. I'm surprised journalists don't investigate and report on this.
Non-citizens working in the USA on an H1N1 visa aleady can sponsor their SAME SEX PARTERS for a visa to accompany them. A right we grant to foreigners in the USA, but deny to our own citizens. How loony is that?


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Comment posted October 1, 2010 @ 4:05 am

USA on an H1N1 visa aleady can sponsor their SAME SEX PARTERS for a visa to accompany them. A right we grant to foreigners in the USA, but deny to our own citizens. How loony is that?


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Hoiaas
Comment posted October 1, 2010 @ 6:24 pm

I'm from Denmark and my partner from Texas ! we have been registered partners since 2000 in Denmark, my partner had to go back to US in 2005 for working and save up for his retirement ! I'm retired and get my pension from Denmark ! But to be together as much possible I have to travelling Denmark USA ! and I have big problems with the US custom ! they say I can't stay here more than 4-5 month a year, so my partner and I have to be apart 7-8 month every year ! My partner has 10 more years before he can retire ! so 10 more years with commute are unbearable ! My partner and I are not breaking any law, we just want to live in peace.


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Doug Reimel
Comment posted October 1, 2010 @ 11:10 pm

So, you're arguing that the bill should not be put into the Comprehensive legislation that helps EVERYONE avoid injustice? Oh, I get it, it isn't CHRISTIAN to help gay lesbian. Yeah, I forgot that part.

Moron.


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Comment posted November 8, 2010 @ 5:04 pm

I'm a US citizen, but because my partner is Mexican and don't have a green card in the US, we have to move to Colombia where I was born. We don't know anybody here and my mother past away a year ago. I miss a lot USA and will like to bring my partner with me, but he can't apply for a regular visa, because he was deported before and for us to stay togheter I make him cross the border one more time. Now it will be very hard for him to do it again, plus we want to have a normal life there. We are living for seven years and I hope the congress aproved this law soon.


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