Do Ask! Do Tell!
Update following the June 26, 2013, Windsor vs. USA Supreme Court decision
Green cards are now available to married same-sex couples, just as they are to heterosexual couples. The same is true for fiancés of US citizens. Contact an immigration lawyer experienced in immigration and knowledgeable about issues that face same-sex couples. This is especially important if your foreign partner has been out of status or may have violated the terms of a visa or used a visa for a purpose other than that for which it is intended. If in doubt, get expert advice. Appeals of an immigration petition that is turned down may be difficult and costly.
US embassies and consulates around the world have been facilitating green cards for same-sex spouses and fiancés since the June 2013 court ruling. They have tweeted and posted the first same-sex partner green cards in their country, signaling their support for the change in the law.
Embassies and consulates in London, Paris, Amsterdam and Cape Town have organized informational meetings for US citizens wanting to know how to sponsor their same-sex partners. Guidance has been issued on name changes on passports of same-sex couples married abroad.
If you have an issues that has not been addressed, or a question, contact exiles at xs4all dot nl
LGBT families are fully included in the president’s comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) framework. White House Press Secretary Carney:
“As we’ve said all along, this is consistent with the principles he has laid out over the last four years. And the President has long believed that Americans with same-sex partners from other countries should not be faced with the painful choice between staying with the person they love or staying in the country they love.”
Terrific support was shown by members of the recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on comprehensive immigration reform. Committee Chair Senator Leahy spent 25% of his time introducing comprehensive immigration reform talking about LGBT families, and most of his tweets were about LGBT families. He is a terrific ally who is committed to having same-sex binational couples included in immigration reform.
Senators and Judiciary Committee Hirono, Coons and Klobuchar spoke out in the hearing on LGBT families. Senator Feinstein has for the first time expressed her support for including LGBT families in immigration reform. As reform will be voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee, support of Judiciary Committee members is crucial. The wave of support is unprecedented.
Secretary Napolitano said there is no reason why USCIS would not be able to handle new rules that include our “permanent partners”, who are included in the president’s framework.
Love Exiles from Democrats Abroad submitted written testimony from two leaders (Bob Bragar, DNC member, and Martha McDevitt-Pugh, head of the LGBT immigration task force) to the Judiciary hearing on immigration reform on the need to include LGBT families.
LGBT families are not expected to be included in the Senate or House bill. The bill is expected soon. LGBT families may be able to be included in an amendment to the bill.
The window of opportunity to contact key legislators drafting the legislation to get LGBT families included is now.
The most important thik you can do is let your senators and representative know that they have a family in their constituency with a US citizen who is shut out of the USA.
1) Contact your congressional representatives and tell them why this is important to you and the impact it has on you and your family. Ask your family back home to do the same. It is simple to make a call to the Capitol Switchboard and ask them to connect you with your senator or congress member’s office: +1 (202) 224-3121
2) Contact members of the “Gang of 8” in the Senate drafting the legislation and tell them that our families need these rights. This is especially important if you are a constituent.
The “gang of 8” senators drafting the bill are Schumer (NY), Durbin (IL) (who are also key 2 Judiciary Committee members); Menendez (NJ), Bennet (CO) and Republicans McCain and Flake (AZ), Rubio (FL) and Graham (SC).
If you or your family are from FL, AZ or SC, it’s important to let your Republican representatives know that real families in their district are affected. There is no excuse for these Senators to spend their time scapegoating LGBT families when the country is faced with the challenge of reforming the immigration system to deal with the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are in the USA. It is not an either/or. We can have both CIR that gives legal status to undocumented immigrants and fixes the omission of LGBT families in current law.
3) Contact Judiciary Committee members if you or your family or friends are constituents: Feinstein (CA), Franken and Klobuchar (both MN), Whitehouse (RI), Bloementhal (CT), Coons (DE), Hirono (HI), and Schumer and Durbin as noted above.
4) Share your story with Love Exiles. Let us know where you and your partner live, why this immigration rights matter to you and your family, and the state and town you are from in the USA. Send your story to exiles at xs4all dot nl
5) Lobby in Washington. Immigration Equality is organizing a lobby day in April. Join if you can. Or make a trip to DC and meet with your representative or their staff.
6) Contact your local hometown newspapers, write a letter to the editor, and let them know you are available for interviews. They have no idea they have love exiles, and parents who are missing the support of sons and daughters, simply because we love someone from another country. You have a great story!
Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. to change the immigration laws to allow gays and lesbians to sponsor their foreign partners for residency. H.R. 519 and S. 296, known as the Uniting American Families Act of 2013, was introduced in Congress by Rep. Jerrold Nadler and in the Senate by Senator Patrick Leahy. UAFA represents an opportunity for the U.S. government to recognize the contributions of gay and lesbian Americans and their immigrant families and to treat gays and lesbians as full citizens. UAFA would make a huge difference in the lives of gay and lesbian binational families.
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