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Urge Congress to Allow Gay Couples to Stay in Committed Relationships

Imagine you have fallen in love and want to spend the rest of your life with a person from a foreign country. If you are a heterosexual American, your partner can gain permanent resident status -- and eventually citizenship -- by marrying you. But if you are gay or lesbian, you cannot sponsor your partner for citizenship because immigration laws do not recognize same-sex couples.

In fact, under no circumstances can a U.S. citizen use a committed relationship as a basis for sponsoring a partner of the same sex from a foreign country, no matter how long the couple has been together or how committed their relationship. "Dual passport" gay or lesbian couples must either go to another country to live together or live apart and struggle to maintain their relationships through expensive phone calls and infrequent visits. Very wealthy gays and lesbians and those with specialized job skills can petition the INS for legal resident status, just like heterosexual individuals. But, unlike with heterosexual couples, the most important person in the prospective immigrant's life doesn't count.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, introduced legislation in the last Congress to remedy this problem. The "Permanent Partner Immigration Act," H.R. 690 would add the term "permanent partner" to sections of immigration law that provide immigration rights to legally married couples. By doing so, the bill would allow gay or lesbian citizens to sponsor their partners to become U.S. residents without relying on state or federal recognition of gay marriage.

Support this Legislation!

U.S. immigration policy should establish fair standards that apply equally to the permanent partners of all American citizens.
Branded as "psychopaths" and "sex deviates," gay and lesbian immigrants were banned from the United States until 1990. Now some foreigners that are persecuted in their homelands simply for being gay can petition for asylum. The Nadler bill is an appropriate next step toward establishing equality in immigration standards for gay men and lesbians.

Family unification is at the heart of U.S. immigration law.
Approximately 75 percent of the 1 million green cards and immigrant visas issued each year go to family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. However, the INS's current definition of family excludes same-sex partners. This bill seeks to recognize the reality that a gay couple is a family.

The U.S. lags behind other democracies in extending fair treatment in immigration policies to gay couples.
Thirteen other countries currently allow the gay partners of their citizens to become permanent residents, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom. But immigration law here in the United States is so bad that San Francisco took the dramatic step of proclaiming itself a "City of Refuge" for dual-passport gay couples. In the spring of 2000, city supervisors voted to instruct city workers not to alert immigration officials to partnered gay and lesbian foreigners living on expired visas. While San Francisco has taken a compassionate approach, U.S. immigration law must be changed to make such subterfuge unnecessary.

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Last updated or verified on February 5, 2002

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