Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Out4Immigration Applauds LGBT Inclusion in President’s Immigration Reform Proposal

Obama’s Plan Would Allow for Visas for Same-Sex Binational Couples

Media Contact: Amos Lim, Out4Immigration, 415-742-1626, amos@out4immigration.org

SAN FRANCISCO – JANUARY 29, 2012 – President Barack Obama called on Congress today to support and pass immigration reform legislation that will specifically help same-sex binational couples.

Following a speech in Las Vegas, Obama issued a written document for reform that “treats same-sex families as families by giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner.” This reflects language long a part of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) that has been circulating through Congress for more than a decade, but has never had enough support to come up for a vote.

Earlier this week, a Senate committee released their own proposal for immigration reform that did not specifically include the issue of same-sex binational couples – foreign nationals legally partnered with gay and lesbian Americans who presently are blocked by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) from obtaining a green card through their relationship. This omission led to an immediate outcry from LGBT groups demanding that any immigration reform focusing on keeping families together included “all families.”

Members of Congress also spoke out against the Senate committee’s proposal, including Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), long-time sponsor of UAFA, who called potential omission “madness”. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who never signed onto UAFA, spoke out in defense of same-sex binationals for the first time when she promised “same-sex, binational couples who are married or meet requirements for being in a bona fide long-term relationship ... are included.”

But before Congress could go any further with their immigration reform plans, the President delivered his version of revamping the system. In his speech he issued a firm message to lawmakers that should underscore for same-sex binationals relief is on the way. Obama warned Congress that if they deadlocked on debate over their proposal, he would ensure his bill went through.

There are an estimated 40,000 same-sex binational couples that could immediately benefit from comprehensive immigration reform. This includes couples who are legally married in one of the nine U.S. states and the District of Columbia, as well as those who have obtained civil unions or domestic partnerships. There are an unknown number of couples who live in exile, in countries that recognize their relationships for immigration purposes after all options to stay in the U.S. ran out. Additionally, there are many couples who have been forced to live apart, and still others who have fallen below the grid, remaining in the U.S. without documentation due to the long overdue need for immigration reform.

Out4Immigration is an all-volunteer grassroots group that works with all of the categories of same-sex binationals described above. The group works to educate the public about the issue and empower couples affected by immigration discrimination to speak out. Those willing to tell their stories are encouraged to visit this link: Count Me In / Same-Sex Binationals Share Their Stories: http://bit.ly/O4ICountMeIn.

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For more information:

Out4Immigration: http://www.out4immigration.org
Obama Reveals His Own Proposal for Immigration Reform: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-unveils-his-own-proposal-for-immigration-reform/2013/01/29/b27dcb78-6a47-11e2-95b3-272d604a10a3_story.html
Gay Couples Left Out of Immigration Reform: http://www.sfgate.com/nation/article/Gay-couples-left-out-of-immigration-plan-4230776.php#ixzz2JPiBDaMV
Count Me In / Same-Sex Binationals Share Their Stories: http://bit.ly/O4ICountMeIn
United by Love, Divided by Law: http://unitedbylovedividedbylaw.tumblr.com
Out4Immigration blog (featuring stories of same-sex binationals): http://out4immigration.blogspot.com/

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