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Churches Cry Foul in Wake of Same-Sex Partner Inclusion in Immigration Reform

Melanie Nathan; 10-18-10-

Will the push for same-sex couples in federal immigration legislation strain an ostensibly wide coalition for comprehensive reform?  My contention is- government ought not be influenced by religious perspectives at all – hence there should be no religious coalition of support. It should simply be out of the ambit of religious influence. This may seem like Church vs. State 101 – yet it is so far from what is really happening. What is really happening is that our LGBTQ rights are being dictated by the Church and its simply reprehensible!

Mark Tooley writing at The American Spectator , in his piece, Amnesty for Same-Sex Couples, where sets out an analysis of church views, delineating the religious right’s objection to same-sex partners having the basic human right to share their life with a partner of their choice, and the basic constitutional right  to pursue happiness with parity under the law.  The general excuse for the discrimination is same-sex immigration rights leads to same sex marriage!

The Article starts  “Liberal Democratic Senators Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Patrick Leahy of Vermont introduced their ‘Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act’ on September 29 . . . It also includes a ‘Uniting American Families Act’ (UAFA) allowing ‘permanent partners’ of U.S. citizens, which seems to mean same-sex couples, to obtain U.S. residency . . . Speaking for the Catholic bishops, who typically support liberalized immigration, Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City reportedly wrote Senator Menendez explaining ‘that a controversial provision, which would confer marriage-like immigration benefits to same-sex couples,’ would ‘preclude the U.S. bishops from supporting’ it as introduced.”

The religious Right, the Evangelicals, The Catholic Church, the Baptists – the ‘interferors’  in matters of civil rights –  take your tax free status – AND lay off our rights. But no that is not happening…. a failure of unbelievable proportion in a system that purports to protect all, in essence has set the religious right loose to impinge on civil rights.

The Catholic bishops, who typically support immigration, have again spoken out against same sex binational couple’s rights to parity under the immigration law, having testified previously in  Senate Committee hearing against the Uniting American Families Act being included in immigration reform, with a threat that they would not support immigration reform containing lesbian and gay, same-sex rights.

At present gay and lesbian couples cannot sponsor foreign born partners and spouses for immigration to the USA.  While I believe this is an equality issue and not an immigration issue, per se,  its inclusion in Immigration reform is a matter of organic necessity at this point, because the immigration equality activists have steered the equality issue into the realm of immigration reform, (CIR.)

Now UAFA has no home except in CIR – so my fear in characterizing it as an immigration issue is elucidated by the likes of  Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City reportedly wrote Senator Menendez explaining “that a controversial provision, which would confer marriage-like immigration benefits to same-sex couples,” would “preclude the U.S. bishops from supporting” it as introduced.  Interestingly these Bishops are willing to sacrifice the flock for fear of gay and lesbians attaining this basic civil right.  However will same sex couples end up being the sacrificial lamb- the “public option” of comprehensive immigration reform?

So while we think this through, do the Church groups have any right to comment at all?  I say not – basic Church versus State 101- yet America it is happening under your nose- as we speak. This Article proves it!

According to Tooley’s report Bishop Wester noted that the same-sex provision “in a comprehensive immigration reform bill will make it far more difficult to achieve the compromise that will be needed in order to enact a fair and balanced comprehensive immigration reform bill.”  Last year, Wester warned against similar legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would “erode the institution of marriage and family by according marriage-like immigration benefits to same sex relationships, a position that is contrary to the very nature of marriage which pre-dates the Church and the state.”

The article goes on to discuss other liberalized immigration proponents, such as the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, also warned against the same-sex provision. “That’s the sad political reality,” he lamented to Episcopal News Service. “Politically in Washington it has been very difficult to engage Republicans and conservative Democrats on the issue of immigration reform.” Rodriguez and his group for Hispanic evangelicals oppose same-sex marriage. “Finally we were able to acquire support and galvanize the white evangelical community in support of immigration reform and that coalition stands to be jeopardized if those agenda items are morphed together.”

Again illustrating that LGBT -and same-sex rights are being used to wedge a coalition that seemed strong.

While one website lists Church World Service as a specific supporter of the same-sex partner provision.  ” We applaud the leadership exhibited by Senators Menendez and Leahy in introducing this bill.” Although all but a few of the National Council of Churches over 30 member denominations oppose same-sex marriage, its relief agency recognized no concerns about UAFA.

One of the few denominations supporting UAFA is the Episcopal Church, whose news service offered a full virtual editorial for the Leahy/Menendez initiative for same sex couples. Episcopal News Service specifically spotlighted a Washington, D.C. Episcopal priest who is married, under D.C. law, to a same-sex Filipino doctoral student struggling with his visa status. “If same-sex marriages were recognized federally this would be a nonissue,” the Filipino student opined. “Just like anybody else, [my partner] would be able to sponsor me.”

Episcopal Church has an official policy statement demanding “immigration equality” for same-sex partners, ratified at the denomination’s General Convention last year. That resolution denounced as an “outrageous injustice” the lack of recognition by federal immigration law for same-sex couples, when “similarly situated heterosexual immigrants are free to marry at any time.” Jewish Reform , Conservative and Orthodox tend toward support of immigration reform including UAFA. United Methodist lobbyist spoke at a press conference for the same-sex partners immigration initiative.

According to the piece also, the Quakers and Unitarian Universalists have also joined with the Episcopal Church and the United Methodist lobby, along with the United Church of Christ, for federal recognition of same-sex partners in immigration law.

So while we look at the support and those who do not support UAFA and immigration equality, my assertion is it is none of any religious organizations business to attempt in any way to influence the legislation on this critical matter. The Church’s views must be ignored by all political representatives as having no relevance whatsoever to the issue at hand.  Yet the article gives credence to the validity of the Church having a view at all.  That is simply unacceptable.  Same-Sex partners and Amnesty?  I  am abhorred by the audacity terming  Equality as an  Amnesty.   If the Church was out the picture – the coalition would not be and the Politicians would have a shot at viewing this legislation for what it is.  But of course we do not have the separation of Church and State that we are led to believe we do.  The Gay and lesbian (LGBTQ community is constantly bombarded and impacted by this failure in America – to truly honor the Constitution and the freedom that was intended by the Founding Fathers, supported by the Mothers!

This UAFA as included in CIR is righting the horrendous wrong of separating couples in love, the immorality of  exiling Americans who want to be with life partners to foreign countries, the abuse of forcing lovers to hide in fear of detention and the  discrimination of deporting those who, but for parity in the law, would not be subject to deportation

Melanie Nathan has written extensively on this topic – Read More

By Melanie Nathan

Photo©LGR Media.

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7 Responses to Churches Cry Foul in Wake of Same-Sex Partner Inclusion in Immigration Reform

  1. FAEN

    October 19, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Honestly why should churches have any say when it comes to the rule of law?

  2. FAEN

    October 18, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    I found this article earlier today and commented on it. What a bunch of nut jobs.

  3. shaktinah

    October 18, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    The other day I saw a link on facebook about how young adults are leaving *mainstream* churches because of their anti-gay stance, and I thought to myself, “Gee, that’s weird, because when I go to interfaith meetings many of the denominations there (finally) affirm equality. The only denoms that I know of who are *actively* anti-gay are Evangelicals and Mormons (both of who are not “mainstream”), and Catholics and Baptists.  Are my experiences for some reason so different from that of other people?”

    Now today I see this article where the headline screams “Churches Cry Foul” over same-sex inclusion, even tho you later acknowledge that Episcopalians, Jews (including Conservative and Orthodox), Methodists, Quakers, UUs and the United Church of Christ are all supportive. Unitarian Universalists (of which I am a member), the UCC and Quakers may not be mainstream but Methodists and Episcopalians definitely are.  So I am left wondering whether the “church=anti-gay” meme isn’t being perpetuated by public preconceptions, despite evidence to the contrary.  There are clearly plenty of differences amongst denoms and even amongst congregations within a denom.

    And while you state that it is none of any religious organization’s business to try to influence legislation, for the record us progressive religious folks put a lot of time and energy into supporting equality.  We were there in the fight to end slavery, to get women the right to vote, and to stand with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr to support civil rights, and we are here now working for full LGBT inclusion/equality.  And churches make great community organizers.

  4. S

    October 18, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    The only reason the churches even support immigration is because it gives them more sheeple to control. That’s especially true for the Catholic Church. Most people in Latin America are Catholics. So they would be happy for them to come to he US and their congregations.

  5. Jones-Munoz

    October 18, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    As an Episcopalian, I strongly support my churches position on immigration and LGBT couples.  No how difficult to create a coalition it is imperative that we proceed to include same sex partners.  Where I take exception is when conservative religious groups are spoofing such legislation,  they want to impose their religious bigotry on others.  Their attempt to exempt a group is hypocritical at least.  Imposing their beliefs to exclude rights to a large group of citizens who don’t have those same values should not be tolerated nor pandered to.

    • Melanie Nathan

      October 18, 2010 at 5:06 pm

      Thank you JM for the encouraging comment

    • dan

      October 18, 2010 at 10:47 pm

      thanks jones-munoz, i left catholicism and joined my partner’s episcopalian church in west l.a. and i felt so good about it. we also are campaigning for the same rights for all lgbt.
      i wish we can put a stop to these churches that preach against us, the same churches that have tax free privileges to molest boys….