Thursday, May 10, 2007

US copies the world?

A bill has been introduced in Congress which, if passed, will bring the US in line with many other countries in the world, including New Zealand (via Joe.My.God). The Uniting American Families Act, sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), will allow US citizens and legal residents in same-sex relationships to sponsor their partners for immigration purposes.

Under current
US law, only married heterosexuals can sponsor their partners. LGBT American citizens who marry their foreign partners in places where same-sex marriage is legal (like Canada or the US state of Massachusetts, for example) still cannot sponsor their same-sex spouse because the infamous “Defense of Marriage (sic) Act” defines “marriage” for all federal purposes—including immigration—as being between one man and one woman.

A press release on the bill from the group Immigration Equality quoted Sen. Leahy as saying:

The promotion of family unity has long been part of Federal immigration policy, and this bill promotes that principle by providing all Americans the opportunity to be with their loved ones. Our immigration laws treat gays and lesbians in committed relationships as second-class citizens; this injustice needs to change. It is the right thing to do for the people involved, it is the sensible step to take in the interest of having a fair and consistent policy, and I hope that Congress will act to help demonstrate our Nation's commitment to equality under the law.

Rep. Nadler is quoted as saying:

Our bill recognizes that American families come in all shapes and sizes. Our laws should work to keep loving families together and not tear them apart. This is a matter of basic fairness and compassion. I am proud to work with Senator Leahy on this issue. We simply ask that gay and lesbian Americans in loving, committed relationships receive the same treatment as everyone else.

Both men are correct, of course, and it’s a law change that’s way past due. However, I doubt very much it will pass and, if it does, Bush will certainly veto it. He ran two elections attacking gay and lesbian Americans, so I personally can’t imagine that concepts of “fairness” and “equality under law” would persuade him to do the right thing. I mean, when was the last time he cared about doing the right thing about, well, anything?

If this law had been in effect in 1995, there’s no telling where we might be living now. For us, things worked out for the best, but we should have had the same choice as other binational couples where one partner is an American citizen.

But let’s get real here: This is only one of hundreds of ways in which the
US government treats LGBT people and families as second-class, and for most people, this won’t be the most important issue. But it is one that affects me the most directly, and I’ll be watching.


d said...

Wow! I'm surprised this is even a bill. No way will it pass - the US just loves to blame gay people for everything: the destruction of heterosexual marriages, the destruction of what a "family" is, child molestation...

Will be very interesting to see how this plays out, though. My dream? To see this pass, and the "defense of marriage act" (ugh what a horrible name!!) be overturned.

I still wouldn't move back to the US, but I'd have a bit more respect for the Senate/House

lost in france said...

At the least I am pleased that Nadler, representing the Upper West Side of MANhattan, is involved in all this.

Arthur Schenck said...

D: I completely agree with you. I think that even if it passes (in the next Congress) and is signed by the (next, Democratic) President, it wouldn't change anything for me personally, but it would be a start.

LiF: You know, somehow I've reached this point in my life and never heard it called MANhattan. I think maybe I need to sign up for a gay refresher course...