Grassroots Group Organizes Local Actions and Resolutions in New York, San Francisco, St. Louis, Seattle for LGBT Immigrant Rights and the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — March 19, 2010 — A national immigrant rights march this Sunday, March 21 in Washington DC organized by Reform Immigration for America (RIFA) will have a large contingent of same-sex binational couples carrying signs calling for passage of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). They will also be demanding that Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) includes these couples – in which one partner is an American citizen and the other is from another country – and their families. According to a Human Rights Watch report, there are an estimated 36,000 same-sex binational couples currently affected.
Several members from Out4Immigration, an all-volunteer, grassroots group with members all over the world will have a presence at the Washington march, but many of the group’s members have faced insurmountable hurdles in getting to the nation’s capital. As a result, the group has turned to more local actions to continue raising awareness about the need to fix a broken immigration system that blatantly discriminates against American gays and lesbians with foreign partners.
“It’s not easy when you and your family are shut out of equal rights at the federal level to legally stay in this country,” said Mickey Lim, Vice President of Out4Immigration.
“Many of our members have been forced into the exile. The only way they could stay together was to move to another country that would recognize their relationship. When this happens usually both partners are forced to give up careers and start over. A lot of our other members are separated from their partners. All their income goes to the few times a year they can actually be together. And, the so-called lucky binational couples that have found a way to stay together in America – they have often spent thousands on legal fees for work and student visas.”
In New York City, Out4Immigration member Todd Fernandez, who is also a human rights attorney, has been urging LGBT immigrant rights supporters to get on a bus leaving from Queens to head to the DC march on Sunday morning. At press time there may still be a few seats left. Contact Todd at CequalsIIR@gmail.com for details.
In San Francisco, Out4Immigration member Erik Schnabel has organized for the group to join local immigrant rights activists just back from the DC march on Wednesday, March 24. Participants are encouraged to meet at 4 pm at Justin Herman Plaza by the BART station for a march to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office at One Post Street for a rally scheduled to start at 5:00. Those interested in attending can contact Erik at email@example.com.
Another Out4Immigration member, Tom Tierney works with Fernandez and others on getting cities to pass resolutions calling for support of UAFA and LGBT immigrant rights. Within the past week, two more major US cities – St. Louis and Seattle – have joined San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and West Hollywood – in passing a resolution calling for civil rights for the LGBT community; particularly pertaining to immigration issues and reform.
“It’s about building a coalition from the ground up,” says Tierney, who also spearheads Out4Immigration’s weekly letter writing campaign to Congress at Change.org, which leads the national effort to gain more co-sponsors for the UAFA (H.R. 1024, S. 424). The legislation calls for the addition of three simple words to US immigration law “or permanent partner” wherever the word “spouse” appears. This would “fix” the part of the broken immigration system that affects same-sex binational couples.
The letter writing campaign has been especially effective – there are now 121 UAFA co-sponsors, more than any other immigration bill. Last week, Rep. Rick Larsen [D-WA-2], added his name to the growing list of representatives eager to end immigration discrimination.
“It’s easy to get involved in the letter writing campaign or to get your city or state to sponsor a resolution from wherever you are,” says Tierney. “Just visit the Out4Immigration website and get started.”
Amos Lim, Out4Immigration, 347-OUT-4IMM, Amos@out4immigration.org
Kathy Drasky, Out4Immigration, 415-606-2085, Kathy@out4immigration.org