Asian Pacific American Legal Center Calls for Passage of Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), Repeal of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
Out4Immigration Applauds APALC’s Support for Ending Immigration Discrimination against Same-Sex Binational Couples
LOS ANGELES, CA—September 30, 2008—The Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California (APALC) called for an end to immigration discrimination against same-sex binational couples today in a detailed report, “A Devastating Wait: Family Unity and the Immigration Backlogs.”
The 40-page report calls for Congress to pass the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA, H.R. 2221; S. 1328), a bill that would allow gay and lesbian US citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration to the US. It also calls for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which it describes as “an obvious and necessary step to ending federal discrimination against gay and lesbian couples.” The full report is available online at: http://tinyurl.com/4kx9h7
“This landmark call to action by APALC is a much needed boost for basic immigration reform in the US, and specifically for the rights of same-sex binational couples,” said Mickey Lim, Vice President of the national grassroots organization Out4Imigration, which advocates for equal immigration rights.
“Fair and just immigration reform seems to have dropped off the radar in this presidential race,” said Lim. “Like APALC, Out4Imigraton knows of 40,000 same-sex binational couples denied the same rights as opposite-sex couples when it comes to being able to stay together with your partner in the US. We are especially grateful to APALC for going that extra mile and calling for a repeal of DOMA, which prohibits the US from recognizing same-sex relationships at the federal level, despite laws in California, Massachusetts and around the world that recognize our marriages.”
The complications brought on by DOMA affect US immigration laws for gay and lesbian Americans. Because DOMA, passed by Congress in 1996, defines marriage in the US as only “that between one man and one woman,” the word “spouse” can only be used by married heterosexual couples. This affects 1,138 laws at the federal level – including immigration law – that use the word “spouse” to provide and enact benefits. Groups like Out4Immigration often work at advocated for change of one specific law, like the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), to add the words “or permanent partner” wherever the word “spouse” appears to remove the barrier set in place by DOMA.
“No one should have to choose between their partner and their country,” said Lim. “But without legislation like the UAFA in place, that’s exactly what’s happening to gays and lesbians in the United States.”
The UAFA currently has 118 co-sponsors of this legislation in the House (H.R. 2221) and 18 for the bill in the Senate (S. 1328). Unfortunately, there is little hope that these bills will come up for a floor vote before the end of the current Congressional term. Work will begin again immediately in 2009 to re-introduce the legislation, which has been proposed in Congress in every term since 1999 (formerly as the Permanent Partners Immigration Act). An Obama Administration and a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress would likely see more movement on this legislation than in the past.
GLBT advocates are hopeful that the repeal of DOMA could also be part of an Obama Administration. The presidential candidate has said he supports full repeal of this legislation that will ultimately be challenged by freedom to marry laws in states like California and Massachusetts.
# # # ______________ For more information:
Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California (APALC): http://www.apalc.org/
The Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 2221): http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:HR02221:
The Uniting American Families Act (S.1328): http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:SN01328:
Out4Immigration addresses the widespread discriminatory impact of US immigration laws on the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV+ people and their families through education, outreach, advocacy and the maintenance of a resource and support network. For more information, visit www.out4immigration.org. To schedule interviews with same-sex binational couples who are available to speak with the media on this issue, including Spanish-speaking couples, please contact Amos Lim, email@example.com, 415-375-3765 or Kathy Drasky at firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-606-2085.