California Closes In on Supporting Gay Binational Couple Bill

Categories: LGBT, Politics
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The California State Senate passed a bill this week urging Congress to greenlight legislation that would allow gay "permanent partners" to sponsor each other for visas.

The only hurdle left is for the State Assembly (which already passed an earlier version of the bill 45-29) to approve the newest version -- and sign off on several technical changes along the lines of reversing the order of Sweden and Switzerland in the bill language.

Basically, advocates of the bill are already tallying it up as a victory: "This will put CA on record as supporting the passage of the [Uniting American Families Act]," wrote Amos Lim, a founding board member of the San Francisco-based Out4Immigration, in an e-mail. While the resolution, passed Monday in the state Senate, doesn't have any power to make Congress do much of anything, California is an important backer. That's because the Golden State is home to the largest number of the 36,000 binational couples counted in the 2000 census, according to a UCLA study.

The Uniting American Families Act -- UAFA for short -- would resolved the problem of the couples whose stories we told in the recent cover story "Worlds Apart." Since gay marriages are not recognized in federal law, gay couples cannot sponsor their spouse for a marriage visa as straight spouses can. This leads to many people choosing to live here illegally or US citizens moving out of the country in order to stay with their partners. The UAFA provision was included in the Democrats' framework for a comprehensive immigration reform bill released in April, yet some advocates want it heard as a stand alone bill to avoid Congress' inevitable delay on comprehensive reform.

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