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Spotlight on Unfair Treatment of Same-Sex Couples by US Immigration Law

Under US Immigration law, same sex couples consisting of a US citizen or permanent resident and a foreign national do not enjoy any of the legal rights or benefits afforded to opposite sex couples. Currently, if a same-sex couple has been united in a civil union or marriage in a jurisdiction or foreign country where such unions are recognized, the US citizen or permanent resident cannot sponsor his or her partner for immigration. The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) has been introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D, NY) into the House of Representatives and by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D, VT) into the Senate. The UAFA would cure the disparate treatment by providing the statutory (legal) basis for the same-sex permanent partner of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident to immigrate to the United States in exactly the same way as the foreign spouse in an opposite sex married couple. The legislation contains the following definitions of “permanent partner” and “permanent partnership”:

The term “permanent partner” means an individual 18 years of age or older who–
(A) is in a committed, intimate relationship with another individual 18 years of age or older in which both individuals intend a lifelong commitment;
(B) is financially interdependent with that other individual;
(C) is not married to, or in a permanent partnership with, any individual other than that other individual;
(D) is unable to contract with that other individual a marriage cognizable under this Act; and
(E) is not a first, second, or third degree blood relation of that other individual.

The term “permanent partnership” means the relationship that exists between two permanent partners.

UAFA, (H.R. 2221, S. 1328)

Human Rights Watch (HRW), in collaboration with Immigration Equality, produced a major report on the issue last year, entitled Family Unvalued, which can be found here.

Media coverage of the issue has increased since UAFA was introduced. Some clips follow.

Clip 1. A pro-UAFA clip from the program Out at the Center

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Clip 2. Rep. Jerrold Nadler Gives an Honest Assessment of the Prospects for Passing UAFA

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Clip 3. Rachel Tiven, Executive Director of Immigration Equality, on The O’Reilly Factor

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