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
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.
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.
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.
Last updated or verified
on February 5, 2002
Copyright 2002, The American Civil Liberties Union