8/14/09 – by Melanie Nathan
The California Assembly Judiciary Committee will be hearing testimony on AJR 15, a California resolution to support the federal Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).
The resolution, introduced by Assembly Member Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and co-sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality (AACRE), formally requests that the US Congress pass and that President Barack Obama sign the Uniting American Families Act. Under current federal law, American citizens are permitted to sponsor an opposite-sex spouse. LGBT partners do not have the same right and are specifically excluded even if married under State law, sue to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA which defines marriage as between a man and a woman only. The UAFA would extend this basic right to committed same-sex couples, who can prove they are in a committed relationship.
More specifically, the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA, H.R. 1024, S. 424) is a U.S. bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses of citizens and lawful permanent residents and to penalize immigration fraud in connection with permanent partnerships.
Binational same-sex partners suffer enormous hardship due to this inequity in the law. In April this year a case received national attention; Shirley Tan and Jay Mercado, from Pacifica California were granted a reprieve when Shirley’s deportation was in effect stayed for the duration of this 111th Congress. A Private Bill from Senator Feinstein was introduced and will have to be reintroduced each new Congress, unless it is voted upon.
But that is a private bill – how can we obtain private bills for all the LGBT binational couples? The only recourse is UAFA and that is why Tuesday’s assembly resolution hearing is so significant. It would be California’s way of saying – …”you have to give all Americans the same rights regardless of relationship orientation. ” It would also hopefully send a message to Senator Feinstein who has not yet signed on as a co-sponsor of UAFA; and hopefully those who are signed on and all advocates will stop hanging their hats on the yet to be seen, maybe to happen, mega issue of comprehensive immigration reform. We must push NOW for UAFA.
So much talent has been lost to our State because so many of our Californians have had to leave home to be with their partners.
Amos Lim, founding Board member of Out4 Immigration, noted “It is important to get California on record as supporting the passage of Uniting American Families Act because our state has the highest number of same sex binational couples living here. According to the studies conducted by Williams Institute, there are about 30% or 10,000 binational couples living here and our representative needs to take a stand for equality and pass this important bill.”
I for one believe that UAFA must move faster and could if it was given enough attention. Now is imperative because it has a lot of support in Congress and the momentum could be there as a result of heightened advocacy and visibility. The Uniting American Families Act had its hearing in DC and now California want to see it happen.
The community is very grateful for the hearing next week and California representatives are urged to vote in favor. It is simply the right message to send to DC.
PRESS: On-site interviews will be available : Providing testimony :
Melanie Nathan, of Marin County and a Commissioner on the Marin County Human Rights Commission who could not Petition for Israeli partner for residency in the U.S.nterviews email@example.com
Gina Caprio cannot Petition for British partner for residency in the U.S
Alice Kessler, Government Affairs Director, Equality California
Santosh Seeram-Santana, Legislative Advocate, Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality
Amos Lim, Founding Board Member and Treasurer, Out4Immigration
When: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 9:00 AM Where: State Capitol, Room 4202
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender-rights advocacy organization in California. In the past decade, EQCA has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil-rights protections in the nation. EQCA has passed over 50 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org
Blogged by MELANIE NATHAN, CEO of Private Courts, Inc. Consulting, mediation & private advocacy ; motivated by injustice, I blog about family law/mediation, politics, news and LGBT equality and anything that ‘tickles my fancy.’ Otherwise blogging as O-blog-dee-o-blog-da. Websites and blogs include: http://www.privatecourts.com; http://www.divorcemediators.us; www.oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com.