Out4Immigration (O4I) is an all grassroots organization. Because of DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act), Americans in same-gender relationships with foreign partners have no right to sponsor their partners for legal residency in the US. In O4I’s ongoing efforts to change this condition, we launch our first petition of the 112th Congress asking Representatives and Senators to support equal immigration rights for same-sex binational couples by becoming cosponsors of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA, House Bill 1537 and Senate Bill 821).
While we badly need comprehensive immigration reform in the US, and this has historically been the vehicle through which we’ve expected UAFA to pass, we have also seen an acknowledgment at last on the Federal level that our families are facing injustice. In February of this year, following federal court rulings that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, President Obama announced that the Justice Department would no longer defend that law in court. As a result, for an all-too brief period at the end of March, the US Customs and Immigration Service put in abeyance deportation cases of foreign, same-sex partners of Americans while it sought legal guidance on the issue. While the resulting guidance supported continued enforcement of DOMA, this brief acknowledgment that DOMA discriminates represents a major turning point in the quest to right this wrong. It is time to demand that equal protection extend to our families.
In the 111th Congress we had a record 161 cosponsors for this bill, though it never made it out of committee. While there is still much work to do, we are deeply grateful to the 119 Senators and Representatives who signed on at the bill’s reintroduction on April14. It is progress that this initial co-sponsorship is far higher than in any previous Congress where the bill has been introduced.
The President, as well as Secretary Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security, will be named on every single petition we mount in this campaign. Additionally, we start our efforts this week targeting the four senators who have been past co-sponsors but have not yet signed on. By signing and promoting this petition, you will help us get them back on board. Change.org also sends letters automatically to your own Congressional Representative and Senators to remind them this is an issue that affects their constituents—it is a great way to reinforce support and appeal to new co-sponsors.
We encourage you to take part in this campaign by using any of these options:
(1) Click through and add your name to this page. You will send ALL six of the letters AT ONCE (plus additional letters to your representatives if you currently live in the US). You can also provide the link to your friends and family to take action too, as well as promote on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites you may use;
(2) Contact the 4 senators here with your own letter, your own story; or
(3) Create a booklet telling your story. See http://tinyurl.com/o4i-toolkit1 for more info on this option.
(4) Look for past petitions on our page at change.org/out4immigration and sign those petitions, too.
Additionally, don’t hesitate to call our recent cosponsors and thank them for their support. Let’s hit our target of 1000 signers this week. Please share this widely, and thank you for taking action!!!
You can visit Out4Immigration at Out4Immigration.org, through its Yahoo Group, or on Facebook, as well as follow O4I on Twitter, as well as visiting our blog—and if you know someone in a same-sex binational relationship, please encourage them to speak up and get involved. The time for justice on this issue is now, so please sign and promote if you can!
I support Out4Immigration, an organization that works for the right of LGBT Americans in loving and committed relationships to sponsor their foreign partners for legal residency in the US. As you may be aware, same-sex binational couples are subjected to gratuitous cruelty under current US immigration laws and are often forced to make heartbreaking decisions to maintain their relationships. Some couples go “off the grid” with an undocumented partner, living in daily fear of the horrific possibility that their lives can be ripped apart at any moment when the undocumented partner is discovered and deported. Other couples are forced into exile, leaving the United States to be with the person they love. Often these American citizens are forced to abandon careers they have worked a lifetime to build. Many times these citizens leave behind aging parents and/or young adult children who rely on them and suffer immensely from their loss. Always, all leave behind communities - and in a greater sense, a country - that has benefited from their ongoing and active participation. No matter the scenario, everyone loses.
The federal government is obviously aware of this discrimination. The US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) recently sought legal guidance as to how to proceed with deporting immigrants in same-sex bi-national relationships in light of the Administration’s decision to no longer support section 3 of DOMA. It is time that America’s LGBT citizens finally be granted the same immigration rights and privileges afforded their heterosexual brothers and sisters. UAFA simply seeks to provide LGBT citizens and permanent residents the right to sponsor their partners for immigration. The legislation includes the same process and penalties as applied in heterosexual sponsorship applications. Same-sex couples are forced to meet the same burden of proof validating their relationships as heterosexual couples. By co-sponsoring UAFA again, you are reaffirming your commitment to equality for every American and confirming your belief that no American citizen should be forced to choose between the country they love and the person they love. We look forward to seeing your name back among the co-sponsors of UAFA. Many people are depending on your support and endorsement of this critically important issue.