Congress Ignores Gay And Lesbian Immigrants In Passing New Immigration Legislation

The Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force deplores the omission of gay and lesbian immigrants from new immigration legislation passed by Congress on December 15 as part of budget negotiations. The newly passed legislation largely concerns family reunification, and includes provisions to make it easier for U.S. citizens and permanent residents to bring their legally married spouses and minor children into the country.

While an important victory for immigrants and immigrants’ rights activists, the new law fails to address the immigration needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people, who are unable to sponsor their foreign-born same-sex partners for immigration to the U.S., notwithstanding the law’s “family reunification” policy.

A bill seeking to address this problem, called the Permanent Partners Immigration Act of 2000 (HR-3650), was introduced into the House of Representatives last February by Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). However, HR-3650 was not among the immigration legislation considered in the negotiations despite the fact that it has 59 cosponsors.

“It is vital that all committed couples have the opportunity to reunite under U.S. immigration law, regardless of their sexual orientation. Congress has no excuse for leaving same-sex couples out of the equation. Counties like England and Canada have recognized and corrected this injustice–when will the U.S.?” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, chairperson of LGIRTF.

Fourteen countries currently recognize same-sex couples for the purposes of immigration, including Australia, Sweden, Israel, the Netherlands and South Africa.

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