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US Congress returns to equal immigration rights for same-sex couples

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A 2007 bill that would offer binational same-sex relationships the same recognition and treatment afforded to binational married couples will come back before the US House of Representatives on Thursday.

New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler is to reintroduce his Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).

It was co-sponsored by 118 of the 435 members of the House in its first introduction in May 2007.

The proposed law would allow gay, lesbian and bisexual US citizens or permanent residents to sponsor their permanent partner for immigration to the country, just as they can now sponsor such family members as siblings, children or husbands and wives.

At present US citizens with foreign lesbian or gay partners find that their relationship is considered non-existent under federal law.

The Defence of Marriage Act, passed in 1996, declared that for all purposes of the federal government, marriage would mean “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

Since lesbian and gay couples are excluded from the definition of “spouse,” US citizens receive no legal recognition of their same-sex partners for purposes of immigration.

The 2000 US Census estimated that in the United States there were almost 40,000 lesbian and gay couples in which one partner is a US citizen (or permanent resident), and the other a foreign national.

This figure does not include the thousands of binational couples who hide the fact they are partners, are forced to live apart, or who have been forced to leave the United States.

Advocacy group Immigration Equality told Metro Weekly:

“The Obama administration has been supportive.

“He did not co-sponsor the bill in the Senate, but he was very clear in the campaign that he supports the goals of this legislation.”

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