Want Some Gay Partner Rights With Your Immigration Reform?

You know that giant, sucky loophole in U.S. immigration law that doesn’t allow gay & lesbian couples to attain green cards for their partners because we can’t get legally married? Much like your grandparents, immigration services doesn’t really think your commitment ceremony was a big deal and therefore they have no need to recognize it. Thanks DOMA! This puts gay & lesbian couples from different countries in a particularly precarious position — unlike straight couples who have a few viable options for U.S. residency/eternal happiness together, the US immigration laws are legitimately often 100% responsible for queer couples breaking up. Though being lovelorn isn’t necessarily our government’s top priority, it’s still pretty fucked up, especially when our friends move to Canada to be with their Canadian girlfriends and leave us here alone with our country fried steak and tri-colored Jell-O and hypocritical closeted Republican senators.

But our lovely legislators hope to change that! Maybe. Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, Rep. Mike Honda of California and others will urge Congress to pass the Uniting American Families Act this year as part of a comprehensive immigration reform package, which would allow gay & lesbians the right immigrate to be with partners. (@politico)

Joe Solmonese of the HRC weighed in, of course (emphasis ours):

Our nation should bring families together, not tear them apart, yet same-sex, bi-national couples are too often forced to separate because the government views them as strangers under the law. For far too long, leaders have ignored the devastating real-life consequences for these couples imposed by our current immigration policies. Family reunification is a primary goal of our immigration system but our government fails to accomplish this basic objective for thousands of loving same-sex couples.

According to change.org, this law would affect up to 36,000 families in the U.S, who could face separation or deportation without reform.

Howevs, other Democrats think that this is not the greatest time to be talking about gay stuff because the midterm elections are coming up. And you can’t win an election if you like gay people. Also this particular issue is problematic because it complicates the Democratic relationship with the Hispanic community, which is very in favor of this immigration reform bill but is also largely socially conservative.

We like Queerty’s take, which is basically that people are playing a bunch of political games:

Joanna Burgos, a National Republican Campaign Committee spokeswoman, says Democrats like Illinois’ Rep. Luis Gutierrez would be smart to leave the gays out of their immigration reform if they have any hope of courting Hispanic votes, but what she meant to say is, “Run, Hispanics! These disgusting Democrats are trying to force the homosexual lifestyle down your throat!”

This is another one of those moments when I wish America was ruled by an Aaron-Sorkin-scripted West-Wing-ocracy. President Bartlett did things because they were right, not because they got him elected (except for talking about MS, whoops).

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Sarah lives in Chicago with her partner and her big white Great Dane. She is a lawyer by day and a beer brewer/bread baker/knitter by night. She & her partner are currently learning how to grow their own food, and eventually they hope to move to a small farm outside the city. In 2009-2010, before jetting off to law school, Sarah was Autostraddle's Managing Editor.

Sarah has written 127 articles for us.


  1. Yeah I am pretty much in this situation right now.

    My girlfriend is American and I’m… well, not. The government will refuse me a green card until the UAFA passes or DOMA is repealed. In fact, for all immigration purposes, we need to keep our names separated from every document, for she would be considered a “reason for me to stay here illegally”. Which essentially means that the worst thing we could do for our relationship is to get married.

    And I’m still in a pretty good situation, compared to LGBT families that have kids that see their parents get deported. It’s super fucked up.

    • >>In fact, for all immigration purposes, we need to keep our names separated from every document, for she would be considered a “reason for me to stay here illegally”. Which essentially means that the worst thing we could do for our relationship is to get married.>>

      That makes me sick to my stomach.

  2. if this legislation passes it would be about the best thing to ever happen. fingers crossed when i apply for my tourism visa that will tide us over til then

  3. I was talking to my guy friend who happens to be gaygaygay and also happens to be from Bulgaria. Part way through the conversation, he started gushing about his wife of almost 5 years. “She is BEAUTIFUL!” *wry smile* pointed to an invisible ring. Apparently if you are legally married in the U.S. for 5 years, you can get divorced and still be a citizen. I asked him what his wife was getting out of all of this and he said “we have an arrangement.” Honestly, I can’t judge him at all for this, as I know plenty of other people (like my Irish ex-boss who is still married to a woman he hates) who do the exact same thing for U.S. citizenship. All I can say is–sanctity of man-woman marriage FTW?????

  4. This is a huuuuuuge issue for me – not because I’m not an American citizen (I am), but because I know how much fair immigration laws mean – Australia’s immigration laws let me get a permanent resident visa because my partner is Australian. Had to jump through a few hoops, of course, but they make you do that if you’re engaged/married/de-facto heteros anyway.

    If this had been the other way around? If I were Australian and wanted to move with my dual citizen partner to the States? I don’t even like to think about it. :(

  5. I am in the opposite situation. Australian with an American girlfriend. I can only stay in the US for 6 months at a time on a visitor’s visa. So for now, I work in Canada and we spend a lot on air fares.

  6. The UAFA is an extremely important bill but I don’t see it happening until at least a year after the CIR bill passes. I hope I am VERY wrong. My partner and I have been dealing with this for almost ten years. We’ve been through hell to stay together and were determined to keep staying together.

    I am always angry, although these days it’s just plain rage, when I hear the majority of the GLBT community not know or know and not care about binationals. And I am sick of hearing the same stat ‘36,000 couples’. That’s absolutely false. It’s way more than that but most people are too afraid to be counted and I understand why. I’ve been told by many people that binationals are ‘too small to worry about now’ as if discrimination against us is no big deal. Living in constant anxiety, waking up every day not knowing if that day will be the day you are separated….it’s a horrible way to live and a life I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    I hope, I pray, I BEG, that people who may not have known about this discrimination, but do now, call your Senators, your Reps in the House and keep pushing for the Uniting American Families Act(UAFA). Our lives, our familes hang in the balance.

    NO ONE should have to be in a position to choose between the man or woman they love and the country they love.

  7. My situation in this country is really complicated but im sick tired of seen on tv reality shows of people that met and got married in 1 week but they do not recognize my ltr of more than 5 years, that makes me SICK.
    In 2011 our lives might change to worse but together we are trying to find ways to stay together here in this country.

  8. Im ready to take Uniting Families in to my own hands. Binational gay couple here. Anyone interested in Talking?

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