06/04/2011, Posted by Melanie Nathan,
Note: This letter has been submitted by OUT 4 Immigration, whom I consider to be the most sincere and miraculous group in the LGBT community with regard to the plight of same-sex couples who have no immigration equality under the federal law of the U.S.A.
Dear Senator Feinstein —
For years, Out4Immigration has been working to secure passage of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA, H.R. 2221 / S.1328) and, more recently, Congressman Mike Honda’s Reuniting Families Act (RFA, H.R.1796).
Over the years, members of Out4Immigration and many of your constituents have appealed to you for your signature as a co-sponsor of the UAFA. As a politician, your concerns about “contentious” bills like this one are understandable. However, your intervention on behalf of the family of Shirley Tan and Jay Mercado in 2009 inspired and gave hope to all who are touched by this issue. It affirmed for us your knowledge that many Americans face similar hardships. The fact that some Americans have a mechanism to sponsor their foreign-born spouses for legal immigration, while members of the LGBT community do not, points directly to the issue of equality.
In the course of your recent Frontiers Magazine interview, you expressed surprise on the issue of same-sex binational couples and what DOMA repeal would mean for them, asserting that this issue was “a whole different set of laws.” The fact is, immigration through family reunification IS an important federal right – one of the 1,138 federal rights legally married gay and lesbian citizens are currently denied due to DOMA.
As Attorney Lavi Soloway states in Frontiers, “The growing call for a moratorium on deportations that are tearing married same-sex binational couples apart every day in this country is not solely, or even primarily, an immigration issue, but rather an equality issue. No other civil rights issue of our time intersects with our broken immigration system in this manner.”
Senator Feinstein, we stand firmly behind you in the conviction that the Respect For Marriage Act must become law. It’s time for America to join the more than 20 other nations on the side of fairness and human rights by providing same-sex binational couples a legal way to sponsor their spouses for permanent residency, along with all the other rights afforded heterosexual married couples under federal law.
You stated in your interview that you would “look into” the binational issue. This petition is our effort to help you do that, because our families urgently need your help, and this injustice has gone too long without being set right. America’s LGBT citizens in binational relationships have been asking for your help for a long time. It is our hope that through the Respect for Marriage Act, you at last take advantage of the opportunity to become the champion our families so critically need.
Unfortunately the Strategy for acquiring these rights has been somewhat messed up to say the least by most of the LGBT rights organizations and mostly to blame is the group which all others succumb to, hailing them as preeminent in the task – immigration equality.
While a repeal on DOMA is now before Congress, such ought to be the focus because once this law is repealed then same-sex couples will not longer face the inequality in immigration.
However while I urge you all to sign this supportive petition, I am concerned that it falls short in asking for something specific of the Senator.
To this end perhaps special legislation or an omni-private bill of sorts could help to place a moratorium on deportations for same sex couples. Also what is urgently needed is an interim Visa process for same sex spouses who can prove a civil union, a marriage or any form of contractual nexus so that our families can stop having to exile and so that couples and spouses can come home.
Look to the Right of this Post and you will note I started such a petition some time ago.! Lets have some action instead of all talk!