Thursday, November 04, 2010

HRC: Where Do Same-Sex Binational Couples Go from Here?

by Tim Kempf

Just as you were (most likely) disappointed by the outcome of the mid-term elections, so was I... Not surprised, but disappointed nonetheless. To add to that disappointment was this e-mail I received from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) less than 24 hours AFTER the elections, listing their mission plan to "move forward." The following is taken directly from that e-mail; comments in bold are my own.
If you know anything about HRC, you know that we're fighters. Now more than ever, HRC's mission and role are essential. There's more than one path to victory. When one door closes, often times others open. That's how we intend to move forward.

And as the next chapter in the struggle for equality begins, we intend pursue every possible opportunity. Make no mistake: the opportunities are there. We can and will defend our progress. We can and will make new gains. Here's how we'll do it:

* Fight to get "Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed this year: We're going to put every ounce of strength into pressuring the Senate to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" before the end of the year. (Really? Every OUNCE of strength?)
* Fight anti-LGBT legislation in Congress – and use it to our advantage: We expect targeted attacks with anti-LGBT bills and amendments from the Republican-controlled House. We will work to stop these legislative roll-backs at every turn, and we will use them to make clear just how out of touch anti-LGBT legislators are with the majority of Americans who accept LGBT people and believe in basic fairness. (Sounds like an excellent plan.)
* Continue to introduce pro-equality legislation: Anti-LGBT leaders controlling one house of Congress won't stop us from reintroducing critical bills like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or the repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. We will work with our key allies on Capitol Hill to try and find ways to move pro-equality legislation forward. (Isn't this the core mission of HRC?)
* Increase pressure on the Obama administration to make non-legislative policy changes: HRC developed the Blueprint for Positive Change at the beginning of the Obama Administration, and we have had a number of important victories to date, including historic changes to hospital visitation rules nationwide. Non-legislative policy changes that will better the lives of LGBT people can be made by the administration. We're preparing to ramp up that work, since it will be a continued avenue for progress at the federal level. (Again, a no-brainer.)
* Fight for marriage equality and other forms of family recognition in the states: In states like New York, Maryland, Delaware and Hawaii, our work to elect pro-equality state leaders has opened up unprecedented opportunities to secure marriage equality, domestic partnerships, or civil unions for the first time. (No small amount of talk has been generated by O4I that, perhaps by repealing DOMA and making gay marriage "legal" everywhere, we binationals might FINALLY see some relief from immigration oppression - I TOTALLY support HRC in this mission.)
* Expose the so-called National Organization for Marriage: Our NOM Exposed project has already pulled back the curtain on NOM's illegal election activities, its ties to extremists, and its shadowy funding. It has also led to an official IRS complaint. It's only the beginning. (Just my personal belief but I really feel that the MORE light we shine on NOM, the more national attention they garner. Is NOM really the definitive anti-LGBT machine that they are being painted to be?)
* Combat bullying: We will intensify our work on Welcoming Schools – HRC's innovative program to combat bullying starting in the earliest grades – as we strengthen our youth programs for kids of all ages and keep the deadly crisis of school bullying in the national spotlight. (Totally agree on this point.)
* Work in religious communities: HRC's Religion & Faith program will continue to work from within to ensure that pro-equality clergy speak out for justice, refute religious-based bigotry, and encourage people of faith to support equality. (Great plan - maybe we could push some CATHOLICS to "sign on?")
* Enable more gay couples to adopt children: We will intensify our push for same-sex couples to be seen as the fit adoptive parents they are. (Again, no brainer.)
* Work with corporations and hospitals: Our workplace project and our healthcare initiative have made extraordinary gains for equality in a relatively short time. By working directly with decision makers in these institutions, we will continue to change the "business as usual" for LGBT employees, customers, and patients. (More core mission action?)
* Bringing media attention to important LGBT issues: HRC has the unique capacity to fight bigotry in the media. From delivering 150,000 letters to the Mormon Church hierarchy after a hateful sermon, to our successful rapid-response campaign against the Arkansas school board official who suggested gays would be better off dead, we will continue to mobilize hundreds of thousands of grassroots activists to stand up for what's right. (As the country's LARGEST and most influential LGBT lobbying group, isn't this what HRC is supposed to be doing? Could HRC mobilize those "...hundreds of thousands of grassroots activists" to stand up for OUR issue, and maybe deliver 150,000 letters in support of UAFA passage to Congress?)
I mean - did I miss something? An ELEVEN bullet point LGBT action plan, and I see no mention of immigration reform for same-sex binational couples. (OK, I'll be fair and suppose that DOMA repeal could be construed as support of our same-sex binational couple immigration issue, but would it be so hard to actually spell it out?) Someone correct me if I am wrong but even with the election losses Tuesday, by my count UAFA STILL has more Congressional co-sponsors than any other immigration reform bill before Congress. Could HRC maybe concentrate some of its considerable lobbying strength in getting us some relief? And soon?

Who will work with HRC to guarantee (demand?) that our issue and needs are addressed? Is that us (O4I) or Immigration Equality? The election results have barely been registered and I feel that we are already being left behind in the agenda "going forward...."

1 comment:

Merritt said...

I agree with your comments, particularly the last sentence.

My question, at this point, is "will the congressional changes offer opportunities to obtain bipartisan support for LGBT issues, and particularly those that impact binational couples?"

Republican are not the enemies, it's special interest groups like NOM that should be considered enemies of the State for all Americans that want better future lives for its citizenry and divisive issues made a part of history.