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Queer Talk: LGBT Advocacy Groups Issue Statement on Immigration Reform

Immigration reform is obviously a big story at the moment. It’s complicated at best. Add “LGBT” to the mix, and even more complications appear.

Yesterday, Immigration Equality, the “first and only organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to achieving full equality for LGBT and HIV-positive immigrants,” released this statement: (emphasis added)

This morning, a bipartisan group of Senators issued a framework for comprehensive immigration reform. The framework, which is the starting point for fixing our country’s broken immigration system, does not include explicit mention of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) binational families. Immigration Equality is exceptionally disappointed the Senators’ framework did not specifically outline a solution for keeping our families together. …

This morning, millions of future citizens awoke to the news that Congress seems willing to reform our immigration system at last. … That should include LGBT families, too, and we pledge to continue working for that fair, inclusive reform along with our allies.

From Buzzfeed:

When asked whether the (LGBT immigrant) issue had been discussed among the eight lawmakers who designed the plan, Sen. John McCain, one of the four Republican senators behind the proposal, declined to delve into specifics.

‘We’ll be working out those details,’ McCain said simply.

Yesterday five LGBT related organizations issued a joint statement on immigration reform, along with a “set of principles for comprehensive immigration reform.” An excerpt of the statement follows. (emphasis added)

‘We are fully committed to and deeply understand the need for this nation to adopt a humane and effective comprehensive immigration policy which places a premium value on justice, dignity, respect and opportunity.

‘Any legislation must include the ability of couples in same-sex relationships to sponsor their spouse or permanent-partner in the same way opposite-sex couples have long been able to under current immigration law.’

Signatories: National Center for Lesbian Rights; Human Rights Campaign; Immigration Equality Action Fund; National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund; National Center for Transgender Equality.

The Advocate has an article about the recent Creating Change Conference hosted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The list from 5 Big Takeaways From Creating Change begins with: (emphasis added)

1) Why Immigration Rights Are LGBT Rights …

(President Obama has) been a bit of two minds on the issue.

On one side, he has deported record levels of undocumented immigrants at an average of 32,886 per month. (That’s 12,000 more than under George W. Bush.) But on the other, he has championed ways for young immigrants to avoid deportation through DACA and even supported their becoming full-fledged U.S. citizens through the prospective Dream Act. …

(The Dream Act) … will not provide political asylum for LGBT immigrants fleeing persecution abroad, nor will it stop the foreign-born partner in a legally married same-sex couple from getting deported. Only a repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act could stop that. …

To learn more about how immigration equality intersects with LGBT issues of all sorts, you can visit The National Immigrant Youth Alliance, the Audre Lourde Project, Unid@s, Southerners on New Ground and Queers for Economic Justice.

So often we come back to DOMA. Of course, immigration reform related to LGBTs isn’t just about couples and families. It’s just as much about individuals. But it’s worth noting, again, how important it is to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

It will be interesting, and revealing, to see if, when and how LGBT immigration rights are, or aren’t, included in the current discussion.

(Immigration Equality Logo Via Immigration Equality)

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