Sunday, December 19, 2010

UAFA, The DREAM Act, and Moving Forward

by Chris Barnett

I have worked to get the Uniting American Families Act passed and will continue to do so, but I am also increasingly convinced that LGBT in general must effectively advance their equality by supporting the struggles of others. To do so represents claiming the truth that somewhere in this country, we are each of a community and a place, a truth the DREAM Act springs from.

Like those of us who want the UAFA passed, those who need the DREAM Act passed are getting the raw end of the deal as things stand right now. It is surely through no fault of their own that young people end up undocumented, and through no fault of their own have LGBT Americans formed deep bonds with a non-US citizen they cannot sponsor to be with them. Like the LGBT sons and daughters of this country, current laws deny the beneficiaries of DREAM the truth of their belonging to America. Both bills have to do with challenging a dysfuntional aspect of the society, the right of many to define by bias those who by law lack political power, and the deriving of policy from that. So we are left trying to make the case for our humanity and we must change the laws.

I am very disappointed at the failure of the DREAM Act, and the repeal vote for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell yesterday is a bittersweet victory because of it. Immigrants are deeply important to our national soul, national story, our economy, and our culture, yet time and again through our history are treated as scapegoats. This must end! These are America's children. As am I. The responsibility is left at our doorstep to do the right thing and love thy brother or sister as thyself.

Yet I will share here in closing that I do not have a sense of what the political prospects for the DREAM Act are, both in the face of a new congressional configuration, and the silver lining of what was a narrow loss. It is the only silver lining I can put on it at the moment, but what does a strategy moving forward look like? How can we ensure we get the votes? These need to be non-issues, there’s more important work to do for our communities, our nation, our planet, and we should be the kind of country that sees the benefit in constructive solutions where good citizens/denizens are concerned. Many of the answers to the problems we face are reasonable. Passing the DREAM Act is one of them, and passing the Uniting American Families Act is another.

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