U.S. Lawmakers Reintroduce Bill To Help Same-Sex Couples Sponsor Foreign Partners

Categories: LGBT
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A new push to change the law for same-sex binational couples.
U.S. lawmakers reintroduced a bill Thursday that would allow gay Americans to sponsor their same-sex partners for visas, just as straight married couples can. At the same time, Congress members wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting that he stall deportations for foreign nationals who would gain relief under the bill.

Both actions came nearly two months after the Obama Administration's announcement that it would not defend the Defense of Marriage Act, the controversial law that reserves federal benefits for heterosexual couples. Since then, Immigration Equality, a Washington- and New York-based nonprofit advocating for gay immigrants, has announced plans to file a lawsuit challenging the law affecting same-sex binational couples.


Today, Democrats, including California Representatives Zoe Lofgren, Jackie Speier, and Mike Honda, reintroduced the bill that has been languishing in Congress for a decade -- the Uniting American Families Act, or UAFA. Senator Patrick Leahy introduced the bill in the Senate; with 98 cosponsors in the House and 18 in the Senate, it has the largest number of supporters since its  introduction in 2000.

UAFA would allow Americans to sponsor their gay "permanent partners" for  green cards -- still the most common and federally prioritized route to legal residency for heterosexuals. A permanent partner is simply defined as someone who intends to have a lifelong intimate relationship with his or her partner.

We wrote about the conundrum gay couples face where one partner is a foreign national in last year's cover story, "Worlds Apart."  They face hard choices: Have the immigrant live in the shadows here, or move to Canada or another country that gives immigration benefits to gay couples.

In our story about U visas last month, we wrote about an American citizen who accused his Mexican boyfriend of pushing forward with domestic violence charges against him, just to obtain a special visa offered to victims of crime. 

Along with giving the bill new life, Lofgren and other Congress members wrote to Holder today asking that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stall any deportations of gay immigrants who would be eligible for a marriage visa if DOMA would be repealed or UAFA passed.

That comes on the heels of an almost identical letter from Senator John Kerry last week.

Support is building for gay couples. Let's see if the bill has more luck this session than it has in the last 10 years.

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Porky
Porky

If one of the partners is from another country the american one should move over there with that person if he or she is truely in love with that person @

Steve
Steve

I am an American citizen who was forced to leave the USA to be with my same sex spouse, leaving my family and a profitable business behind. Since we could not be together in the USA or in my spouse's native land, we have been forced to move to a third country -- a place neither one of us had ever been to before, just to stay together.

Fox
Fox

I will have you know I'm one of these people you just spoke of. I'm American and my partner is French. I have no choice but to live in France because my own country will not allow me to sponsor the person I love. Yet if I was straight this would be no issue. Tell me how is this fairtreatment under the law! Land of the free ineeed.

Jenn
Jenn

So if you fell in love with someone you would expect to just up and leave your home without a second thought. This is not always possible and sometimes the place that the partner comes from is either not safe for same sex partners, or it does not allow same sex immigration either. Someone should not have to choose between their country and the person they love.

UAFAwatch
UAFAwatch

Why? Surely the same could be said of opposite-sex partners. If an American man falls in love with a French woman, they should move to France. That's the equivalent of what you're saying. What if France has similar rules? Where should they go then?

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