Target: United States Congress
Goal: Support the passage of immigration reform that allows same-sex couples the right to join their partners in the United States.
As Congress moves ahead on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR), Congressman Jerrold Nadler has re-introduced the Uniting American Families Act in the House. UAFA, which extends rights to permanent same-sex partners of citizens and lawful permanent residents, has died in each consecutive Congress since its original introduction in the 106th Congress as the Permanent Partners Immigration Act of 2000. This time, however, there’s hope: the bill now has two Republican co-sponsors, and the House appears more poised than ever to seek comprehensive reform. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi advocates for the bill, saying, “As we work toward comprehensive immigration reform, we must ensure that the value of all families is valued, respected, and recognized in the eyes of the law.”
Despite bipartisan support in the House, comprehensive immigration reform for same-sex couples faces challenges. The Senate version of the CIR proposal contains no provision for UAFA or same-sex couples, and some members of the so-called “gang of eight” who have drafted the Senate plan have expressed hostility towards LGBT inclusion in immigration reform. Senator John McCain describes LGBT inclusion as “not of paramount importance,” and Senators Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham have made similarly disparaging comments. Although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has spoken out against McCain, the existence of these attitudes jeopardizes immigration reform for same-sex partners.
It’s time to tell Congress that LGBT-inclusive immigration reform is indeed “of paramount importance” for CIR. LGBT couples deserve to be united with their families sooner rather than later. It would be extremely unfair to subordinate LGBT immigrants in some attempt to prevent controversy. President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid support inclusion, and Senator Patrick Leahy has pledged to re-introduce UAFA legislation in the Senate. Urge them to continue supporting LGBT-inclusive immigration reform over the protests of anti-inclusion representatives like McCain.
Dear United States Congress,
You are currently in the process of drafting comprehensive immigration reform. As many among you understand, immigration reform must include the rights of same-sex partners. There are those senators who believe that LGBT-inclusive immigration reform will jeopardize all immigration reform. This belief, if allowed to affect CIR, would leave a vulnerable group of immigrants without the opportunity to join their partners. Same-sex partners deserve the same recognition of rights that opposite sex married immigrants have long enjoyed. An immigration reform which does not recognize this is an immigration reform which fails to be comprehensive.
Keep supporting the House version of the bill, and support Patrick Leahy in his plans to re-introduce UAFA in the Senate. Do not allow yourselves to be persuaded by those who argue that this legislation is too controversial to pass. Passing a weakened version of immigration reform would have deleterious effects on same-sex couples. It would force them to wait for rights that are already available to others, and the wait has already been a long one. Do not compromise on doing what’s right.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: “Demonstrations and Protests relating to LGBT” in Wikimedia Commons