Thursday, June 04, 2009

2 More Senate Co-Sponsors for UAFA, and Hearing News Updates

by Kathy Drasky

Most of us are still reeling from the historic Senate hearing on the UAFA yesterday. Moved by the testimony of Shirley Tan (see videos posted to the left), the compassion of Senator Leahy, the support of Sen. Arlen Specter and heartfelt and honest pro-UAFA testimony from love exile Gordon Stewart, Julian Bond of the NAACP and Christopher Nugent of the American Bar Association. Still stunned by the cold-heartedness of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) -- he delivered everything we expected, I suppose -- and the unbalanced arguments of Roy Beck and Jessica Vaughn.

For eyewitness recaps and more about today's LGBT briefing on Capitol Hill, visit our colleague Melanie Nathan's blog. Mel was the attorney for Shirley Tan here in California and was instrumental in getting the assistance needed from Rep. Speier and Sen. Feinstein for the private bill that stayed Shirley's deportation (but only until the end of next year).

There is some good news we can savor for the moment. Two new co-sponsors in the Senate! Yes -- Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) bring our total to 19 supporters in the Senate. Thanks to all of you who wrote Sen. Durbin this week as part of the Out4Immigration Letter Writing Campaign. And, I know many people have been writing and calling Senator Cantwell. Make no mistake -- it is these seemingly small moves that are increasingly adding to the big picture.

How many of you saw the story about same-sex binational couples on yesterday, "Same-Sex Couples Fight for Immigration Rights"? This story was put together by O4I's Amos Lim working with CNN reporter Mallory Smith -- and everyone mentioned in it as a member of Out4Immigration! Martha and Lin McDevitt-Pugh are also two of the leaders of Love Exiles and have come from the Netherlands to be in Washington, DC this week. Chris Waddling is the binational couple coordinator with Marriage Equality USA.

Please take the poll on the topic here. The poll is in the right-hand column, about halfway down the page. And right now we are trailing -- 60% of voters do not think gay and lesbian Americans should be able to sponsor their foreign partner for immigration purposes. Granted, this poll is about as scientific as Roy Beck's claim that immigrants are destroying the environment, but as my gorgeous Aussie partner would say, "Let's give it a go, hey?" Vote your conscience!

There is lots more going on, especially re: the new bill coming up in Congress, The Reuniting Families Act. Right now the House will include the UAFA as part of this bill, the Senate won't. To get in on the discussion of why -- please become a member of Out4Immigration and join our YahooGroups list, where our members debate these issues and brainstorm plans of attack.

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