National Latino organizations urge passage of the Uniting American Families Act
August 24, 2012
This week, over thiry prominent Latino organizations signed onto a group filing that encourages Congress to pass immigration reform legislation, including legislation that would eliminate immigration discrimination for same-sex couples. The organizations spoke specifically about the importance of the Uniting American Families Act, which would extend current immigration laws to include the words "permanent partner" anytime the word "spouse" appears.
Because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that prohibits federal respect of marriages between same-sex couples, the federal government is not permitted to view same-sex couples, even those who married in states that have approved the freedom to marry, as "spouses." Adding "permanent partner" to the law would allow gay and lesbian Americans to sponsor their foreign-born partners for immigration in the same way that straight Americans can sponsor their foreign-born partners.
Including the Uniting American Families Act in comprehensive reform in order to eliminate discrimination in immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status.
The filing was signed by many Latino groups that have recently announced their fervent support for the freedom to marry, including the National Council of La Raza and the League of United Latin American Citizens. Their outspoken support for UAFA is the latest evidence of the increasingly vocal and expansive support for the freedom to marry from the Latino community in the United States. These organizations, and a growing population of Latinos, support respect for marriages between same-sex couples. A large number of the organizations that have signed onto this filing are also partners in Familia es Familia, a new national public education campaign to help Latino families talk about, accept, and support their gay and lesbian family members. Read more about Familia es Familia HERE.
Last August, President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security declared that their efforts to enforce immigration laws would begin viewing LGBT relationships as "family relationships" and that they had placed a lower priority on immigration cases involving binational same-sex couples. UAFA or other steps forward would delineate this intention in writing and ensure that there is no question about how cases involving binational same-sex couples should be handled.
The families who would benefit from the passage of UAFA are the same families who are hurt every single day by the Defense of Marriage Act. Binational same-sex couples are unfairly separted by U.S. immigration policy simply because DOMA continues to discriminate against their relationships, placing even marriages performed in states with the freedom to marry in a different, lower class than marriages between different-sex couples. If same-sex couples had the freedom to marry across the United States, we wouldn't need to pass UAFA because marriages between same-sex couples would already be respected and treated as equal to marriages between different-sex couples.
Freedom to Marry applauds these Latino organizations for taking a stand against discrimination in U.S. immigration law.