Posted by: outandequal | April 21, 2011

Reuniting partners and families

Justin Tanis

Justin Tanis, Director of Communications

by Justin Tanis | At Out & Equal, we stand firmly behind the principle that you should never have to choose between a career you love and the people you love, and yet the discriminatory immigration policies of the United States force bi-national same-sex couples to make this choice all the time. If a US citizen falls in love with someone from a different country and they are a male-female couple, that person can sponsor their partner for permanent residency, an opportunity denied to same-sex couples.

When two men or two women of different nationalities fall in love, they must then choose which country to live in. The majority of these couples are from countries where neither of them has the right to permanently sponsor their partner, leading them into a maze of immigration regulations, mandated time apart and more. A Williams Institute report estimates that there are 35,820 bi-national same-sex couples in the United States, based on the counts of the 2000 Census.

From a business perspective, this can lead to major disruptions. An employee may be forced to leave a good job in order to move to a country where the couple can be together. The constant strain of lengthy times apart, frequent travel, and the stress of the immigration system can take their toll. This also impacts their families—more than a third of the male couples and more than half of the female couples have children under 18 in their homes.

LGBT advocates—and our champions in Congress—are working hard to make positive change in the federal laws to keep these families together. Our colleagues at Immigration Equality have asked us to let you know about two important bills—the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and the Reuniting Families Act (RFA), and what you can do to support them. Out & Equal is proud to endorse both of these critical pieces of legislation.

Here is Immigration Equality’s Action Alert this week:

We need your help — RIGHT NOW — to pass the Reuniting Families Act (RFA).

The Reuniting Families Act is a comprehensive family immigration bill that works to unite and keep families together.

There are family members who have been waiting years to be reunited with their partners, spouses, children, and other loved ones and this legislation works to reduce the backlog and provide for more timely reunification of our families.  Additionally, Title II of the bill is the Uniting American Families Act that allows lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) immigrant families to stay together and will keep LGBT spouses and partners from being deported.

To pass RFA, however, your Representative needs to hear from you. The phone number to call is: (202) 225-3121.  Ask the switchboard operator to connect you with your Representative; the operator can tell you who she or he is if you don’t know.

Please ask your family and friends to call as well; it will only take a few minutes to say:

“Hi, my name is ___________, I live at (street address and city) and I am your constituent.

I am calling to ask Representative ________________ to cosponsor the Reuniting Families Act because it allows all families – including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender families – to stay together.”

Now, please take just a few minutes of your time and call your Representative. These calls — your calls — could help make all the difference for our families.

Thank you for all that you do!

Julie Kruse
Policy Director / Immigration Equality | Action Fund
Washington, D.C.

If you’d like more information, visit Immigration Equality’s Legislation page. There is also a Business Coalition of companies who support legislative change to allow US citizens to sponsor their same-sex partners.

For more depth information, Immigration Equality and Human Rights Watch have published a comprehensive report on the topic: Family, Unvalued: Discrimination, Denial, and the Fate of Binational Same-Sex Couples Under US Law.

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