by Chris Barnett
You may have noticed that we haven’t run any UAFA petitions in a while, though we have not abandoned that effort. As you are all probably aware, 2011 is turning into a watershed year, where the fate of same-sex binational couples and DOMA are concerned. We still have much work to do, but after so many years when it seemed our allies were far too few and the issue too low-profile to be on anyone’s radar, it is now turning up everywhere from blogs to petitions to network news to court rulings to the White House’s website. There is traction to this issue in a way we have never seen before!
As any on you who follow and sign the petitions know, historically UAFA has been our focus, and for the longest time it was our best (and frankly, only) hope to see justice for ourselves as well as our loved ones. However, we’ve also run a number of petitions addressing other aspects, such as political lack of leadership on the Administration’s part, calling out Senator Feinstein for her waffling when it comes to our families, or the Diversity Lottery fiasco. And most recently we are focusing on Doug Gentry and Alex Benshimol, a legally married California couple, because Alex is facing a deportation hearing this Wednesday morning, July 13th, in San Francisco.
I am happy to announce that this most recent, with the help of GetEQUAL, Marriage Equality USA, Stop the Deportations, and others, is already well over 4000 signatures! This has never happened with any of our petitions. People are moved by raw injustice, and what Doug and Alex are up against is humanizing the issue in a way that is clear to see. It also helps illustrate how DOMA is injurious in myriad ways, and must end.
As far as UAFA is concerned, back in the day when we were literally calling and faxing it made sense for us to target 4 lawmakers every week. As the profile of our issue increases and social media becomes the strongest way to build support, we’ve come to the conclusion that it makes sense to launch fewer campaigns and take more time in between to build energy around each one—as well as avoid “petition fatigue”. Especially for those who are supportive but not directly affected themselves, we were finding that many people do not realize that each petition addresses a different target or aspect than the one before. Where it comes to UAFA, there will be less petitions, but we will target more representatives per petition. And we will continue to respond with our petitioning efforts to situations like the one Doug and Alex are up against. In writing this, I want to encourage everyone to turn up the heat in whatever way you can. Helping keep the petition effort strong for all of our petitions are open, and all of them can be found here:
So thanks to everyone for everything you do. Whether calling, writing, signing and promoting the above petitions, speaking, marching, demonstrating; or simply holding and believing in the vision of a day when we can live where we wish, with the one we love and without fear, each and every action or intention you can bring to righting this wrong helps push us just a little closer to the day when this injustice ends for good. Please recommit to signing and promoting the petitions we have up, and will be introducing as we move forward. Especially this week, when Alex Benshimol has to appear at a deportation hearing in San Francisco, we have an opportunity to stand up for a couple who could be any among us. This is an issue about the health of the wider community, and of democracy. Even if same-sex binational couples are only a small portion of the population, as long as any citizens are subject to the treatment we are, and have been, no one is free. This is changing, I feel certain, but all the more reason to push now, more than ever.
So please, go to http://www.change.org/out4immigration/petitions for all of our petitions, and http://www.change.org/petitions/save-doug-and-alexs-marriage-and-stop-deporting-our-spouses for the current one. Thanks, everyone! Together we are righting what has been wrong for far too many years!