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USA: Senator Leahy Files Amendment to Immigration Bill to Help Binational Couples

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Vermont Senator Patrick LeahyIn a move that was expected (and widely expected to fail), Democratic senator Pat Leahy put forth an amendment to the immigration bill that would allow an American citizen to sponsor his or her foreign same sex partner. Think Progress reports:

On Tuesday, Leahy tried to rectify that problem after the bill was approved for debate. His new amendment, which will be voted on by the whole of the Senate, would ensure that same-sex couples in legal marriages are considered as a family unit in immigration proceedings. Should the amendment be adopted, it will allow, for example, a gay American man to sponsor his non-native born spouse for citizenship.

The GOP is pretty much uniformly opposed to the idea, so it will likely go nowhere. Let’s hope the Supremes save the Democrats’ bacon on this one.

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USA: Immigration Reform Bill to Move Out of Senate Committee Without Provision for Binational Same Sex Couples

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

CongressAs many suspected, the immigration reform bill will move ahead without provisions to allow american citizens to sponsor their same sex spouses. The Washington Blade reports:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced on Tuesday that he’ll withhold amendments to include gay couples as part immigration reform after tearful speeches from Senate Democrats on the panel who said they couldn’t support the measures. After an extended speech on why he believes discrimination against gay couples is wrong — Leahy said “with a heavy heart” he wouldn’t introduce the amendments before the committee — which would make bi-national same-sex couples equal under the law to straight couples for immigration purposes.

Democrats on the panel ultimately torpedoed the amendment:

Democrats who are known for being LGBT rights supporters — Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) — said they were torn on the issue, but couldn’t support the amendments out of fear they would lose Republican support and it would kill the legislative package. Feinstein said the Supreme Court, which is currently considering the constitutionality of DOMA, may make the issue “moot” because a ruling against the anti-gay law in June would end discrimination against married bi-national couples.

As a practical matter, I almost understand this. But OTOH, this move may just embolden the GOP to push for even more concessions. I still say it should have been included in the bill from the get-go – make them take it out instead of try to get it added in. But the Democrats never were very good at negotiating.

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USA: Democrats Reluctant to Include Gay/Lesbian Binational Couples in Immigration Bill

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

Congress - Capitol BuildingSenate Democrats are considering offering an amendment to include gay and lesbian binational couples to the immigration reform bill on the floor instead of in committee. The Washington Blade explains:

Late Thursday, Politico reported that Democrats are asking the White House to tell Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to withhold amendments for bi-national same-sex couples until the larger measure reaches the Senate floor — where passage will likely be more difficult. “They’re increasingly uneasy about risking Republican support but reluctant to tell gay rights advocates that an amendment allowing American citizens to seek green cards for their same-sex foreign partners may not get a vote in the Judiciary Committee,” Politico reported. Concern over the amendments follows remarks from Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — as well as comments from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to the Washington Blade — that including the pro-gay language would kill immigration reform.

Their mistake was to not include it in the original bill, where it would have been much harder to strip out. Senate Dems must be hoping the US Supreme Court will step in with their DOMA decision and take this decision off their hands.

USA: New Video from the DOMA Project Profiles Same-Sex Couples Harmed by DOMA

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

you tube bigThere’s a new video out showing couples who have been forced to split or leave the country by Defense of Marriage Act. Towleroad.com reports:

Lavi Soloway of the DOMA project put this clip together to show the “Gang of Eight” and those opposed to including gays in immigration reform just a few of the couples getting harmed by leaving it out.

Hopefully either immigration reform or the US Supreme Court ruling will sort this out and help these couples.

USA: Senator Leahy to Amend Immigration Bill to Add Binational Gay Couples

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

US CongressThe immigration reform bill introduced by the Senate “Gang of 8” was lacking a provision to allow US citizens to sponsor their same sex partners. Now one Senator is trying to amend the bill to rectify the issue. The Washington Blade reports:

The lead sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act in the Senate has announced that he’ll introduce the legislation as a committee amendment to comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement on Tuesday that he filed the measure — which would enable gay Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for residency in the United States — along with several other amendments before the committee for the immigration bill.

What happens next?

All committee amendments to comprehensive immigration reform are due at 5 p.m. The committee is scheduled to vote Friday on the first round of amendments. Subsequent votes are slated for May 14, May 16, May 20 and every day that follows until there’s a final vote on the bill. Chances are the amendments for gay inclusion will come up on one of these later days.

It’s time we took action to keep binational gay and lesbian couples from being forced apart by the INS.

USA: President Obama Wants Immigration Bill to Include Binational Gay Couples

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

President Barack ObamaPresident Obama stepped into the immigration reform controversy around binational couples today. Pink News reports:

US President Barack Obama has said that he thinks recognising gay couples in a broad immigration bill currently pending in Congress is “the right thing to do”. The President did not specify whether or not he would sign legislation, if it failed to protect binational gay couples. He said it would be premature to predict what he would do until he is sent a bill by lawmakers. Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Obama commented that it was the “right thing to do”, to include gay couples in the legislation, reports the Associated Press.

Are Senate Democrats listening? Too many gay and lesbian couples are in limbo – it’s time to allow gay and lesbian US citizens to sponsor their husbands and wives for citizenship.

USA: Groups Pressure Senate to Include Same Sex Couples in Immigration Reform Bill

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

USA: Groups Pressure Senate to Include Same Sex Couples in Immigration Reform BillLGBTQ Nation reports:

Both parties want the bill to succeed. Merely getting to agreement on the basic framework for the immigration overhaul, which would create a long and costly path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people in the U.S. illegally, was no small feat for senators. And getting it through a divided Congress is still far from a done deal. Even so, gay rights groups, their lobbyists and grass-roots supporters are insisting the deal shouldn’t exclude bi-national, same-sex couples – about 28,500 of them, according to a 2011 study from the Williams Institute at UCLA Law. They’re ramping up a campaign to change the bill to allow gay Americans to sponsor their partners for green cards, the same way straight Americans can. Supporters trekked to the Capitol to make their case at senators’ offices on Wednesday.

In related news, members of the Hispanic Leadership Network, a conservative Latino group, seemed to strongly support including same sex couples in the reform.

At the annual Miami conference of the Hispanic Leadership Network, a group for conservative Latinos, ThinkProgress spoke to conference-goers about their views with respect to treating LGBT couples equally in immigration law. Nearly every person we spoke with supported including in the immigration reform package equal protections for LGBT couples.

If we don’t do something to help same sex binational couples now, when will we ever get to it?

When We Focus on Marriage Equality, Who Do We Leave Behind?

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Last month at rallies outside of the Supreme Court, the Human Rights Campaign asked protesters to move their trans pride flag from behind the podium and censored a speech given by the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP) so as not to reveal the immigration status of the speaker.

Later, HRC, GetEQUAL and United for Marriage issued public apologies for “offending” those groups, and reminded them that they are committed to their issues. But this is more than a matter of unintentional “offensive” incidents. These are people being told that they must conform or get out of the way. These are people being told that their needs and experiences aren’t relevant to those making decisions in their communities. Yet this is nothing new for the mainstream gay rights movement.

Our most effective arguments for marriage equality have been ones that mirror the values of those who are in a position to give us access to the rights we seek. We seem overjoyed to explain time and time again that, just like them, we too believe in the supreme value of marriage and the nuclear family. In order to support this argument and present ourselves as a non-threatening community of good citizens, we’ve actively excluded and suppressed those of us who depart from the values of the heterosexual majority, leaving our most marginalized brothers and sisters behind.

Authored By Drew Ambrogi – See the Full Story at The Washington Blade

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USA: Binational Couples Await Supreme Court Ruling On the Defense of Marriage Act

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Defense of Marriage ActBinational couples across the United States are hoping that the Supreme Court strikes down section 3 of DOMA, recognizing their marriages and allowing them to keep their foreign partner in United States legally. LGBTQ Nation reports:

Jason Kirchick and Christian Pinillos of Stowe, Vt., are worried not only about their future working at a struggling ski lodge but also about their marriage. Now that the lodge has fallen on hard times, the men’s jobs are in jeopardy and with his job, so is Pinillos’ immigration status. The Peru native is in the U.S. on a work visa, which he would lose if he’s unemployed. The pair, who married in Massachusetts in 2011, is among many same-sex couples and others around the country anxiously awaiting the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

There are many, many other binational couples in the same straits – hopefully the Supreme Court ruling will bring them some relief.

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USA: Same Sex Couples to Be Excluded From Immigration Bill

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Congress - Capitol BuildingIn a disappointing but hardly surprising move, the Senate immigration bill being put together by the so-called “gang of 8” will not include any provisions to assist binational gay couples, The Washington Blade reports:

Immigration Equality Executive Director Rachel Tiven on Monday said she does not expect same-sex couples will be included in the comprehensive immigration reform bill a bi-partisan group of senators could potentially introduce by the end of the week. “We are not expecting LGBT families to be included in the Gang of 8 bill,” she told the Washington Blade during a conference call ahead of a rally in support of comprehensive immigration reform on Wednesday that is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to the U.S. Capitol. “That in our minds means that of course the bill is incomplete.”

Same sex couples of mixed nationality suffer real hardship and pain in this country, often being forced to separate or leave the country to stay together. Leaving them out of the final bill would be a travesty.