Another piece of critical pro-LGBT legislation will be brought forth in the House and Senate by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The Uniting American Families Act would allow same-sex couples where one member is seeking to bring a foreign partner into the country under U.S. immigration law  that currently only applies to opposite-sex couples.

Our families aren’t recognized, and this bill will rectify this immigration loophole that has torn gay and lesbian couples apart. I personally know two couples dealing with the tragedy of this situation. (HRC):

Approximately 75 percent of the 1 million green cards or immigrant visas are issued to family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. However, the Immigration and Nationality Act’s current definition of family does not include same-sex partners. Therefore, thousands of same-sex couples are separated or live in constant fear of being stopped by officials who demand to see documentation and threaten detention. In some cases, same-sex partners face prosecution by the Immigration and Naturalization Service – including hefty fines and deportations.  U.S. citizens are sometimes left with no other choice but to immigrate with their partners to a country with more fair-minded immigration laws.

…One of the fundamental principles of immigration law and policy is the notion of family unification, which allows U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor their spouses (and other family members) for immigration purposes. Unfortunately, same-sex couples committed to spending their lives together are not recognized as “families” under current federal law, including the U.S. immigration law.

…Once the measure is enacted, bi-national same-sex couples will have to meet the same requirements as bi-national, married couples. Some requirements include providing proof of the relationship – including affidavits from friends and family or evidence of financial support.

Last time around, the bill had 116 co-sponsors in the House and 14 in the Senate.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding