Till Deportation Do Us Part


By Rebecca DeRosa
The NYC Independent Media Center


Now that the Republicans have lost control of Congress, perhaps legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act will finally get passed. This bill would give U.S. citizens the right to give their loved ones citizenship.

Yes, this is a right that already exists, but only if you marry someone of the opposite sex.

Now that the Republicans have lost control of Congress, perhaps legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act will finally get passed. This bill would give U.S. citizens the right to give their loved ones citizenship.

Yes, this is a right that already exists, but only if you marry someone of the opposite sex.

Currently, U.S. citizens cannot extend citizenship rights to their same-sex, foreign-born partners. While some people want to “defend marriage,” they don’t seem concerned with defending the rights of real people who consider their relationships as valid as the latest 24-hour tabloid marriage or mail order bride.

The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) was first introduced by Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in 2000 under the name Permanent Partners Immigration Act. In 2003, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) brought companion legislation before the Senate. The bill was reintroduced into Congress in June 2005. To date, about 104 members of Congress from both houses cosponsor the bill.

“Keeping loving families separated is gratuitous cruelty that serves no constructive purpose,” Nadler told The Villager. “This bill only demands that those people in same-sex permanent partnerships receive equal treatment as everyone else—not an iota more.”

In a city like New York, where there are so many immigrants, there are many binational couples. And according to the 2000 U.S. Census, people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community partner with people outside of their ethnicity and culture more often than people who date the opposite sex. Like the majority of Americans, many of these couples wish to marry and join or start families.

Immigration Equality works to end laws that discriminate against LGBT immigrants. According to Adam Francoeur, the organization’s policy coordinator, 65 percent of all green cards issued annually are given on the basis of family unification. But gays and lesbians are shut out of the spousal category that falls under family unification.

“That’s a major way in which the needs of LGBT immigrants are unique because they lack opportunities,” says Francoeur. “Their opportunities are more limited.”

At least 17 countries offer partnership recognition to same-sex binational couples that allows them to remain together. The 2000 U.S. Census counted about 36,000 same-sex “unmarried” couples in which one member was a U.S. citizen and the other a non-citizen. But the Census doesn’t offer statistics on the number of same-sex couples who moved out of the U.S. to remain together.

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