WASHINGTON - May 8 - Today, Human Rights Campaign President Joe
Solmonese and Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality,
hailed the reintroduction of the Uniting American Families Act. The
bill, sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Sen. Patrick Leahy,
D-Vt., will allow citizens and legal residents in same-sex relationships
to sponsor their partners for immigration purposes.
One of the fundamental principles of U.S. immigration law is the
notion of family unification. Approximately 75 percent of the 1
million green cards or immigrant visas are currently issued to family
members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Tragically, same-sex
couples are not recognized as “families” under U.S.
immigration laws, and are unable to sponsor their partners.
“For too long Congress has ignored the heart-wrenching real
life consequences this policy has had on same-sex couples in committed,
lifelong relationships,” said Solmonese. “Thousands of
same-sex couples are separated or live in constant fear of being stopped
by officials who demand to see documentation and threaten
The Uniting American Families Act applies the same standards to
same-sex couples that the United States applies to opposite-sex couples
where one member is seeking to bring a foreign partner into the
“We thank Senator Leahy and Representative Nadler for their
continued leadership on an issue that is vitally important to so many
same-sex couples in the U.S.,” continued Solmonese. “We
also commend Immigration Equality for their ongoing legal support to
these couples struggling to keep their families together because of this
“Dividing loving families, simply because they are gay or
lesbian, is un-American,” said Tiven. “We call on Congress
to end the very real separation that thousands of same-sex couples and
their families must endure because of this unequal treatment by our
“The promotion of family unity has long been part of federal
immigration policy, and this bill promotes that principle by providing
all Americans the opportunity to be with their loved ones,” said
Leahy. “Our immigration laws treat gays and lesbians in
committed relationships as second-class citizens; this injustice needs
to change. It is the right thing to do for the people involved, it
is the sensible step to take in the interest of having a fair and
consistent policy and I hope that Congress will act to help demonstrate
our nation’s commitment to equality under the law.”
“Our bill recognizes that American families come in all shapes
and sizes,” said Nadler. “Our laws should work to keep
loving families together and not tear them apart. This is a matter of
basic fairness and compassion. I am proud to work with Senator Leahy on
this issue. We simply ask that gay and lesbian Americans in loving,
committed relationships receive the same treatment as everyone
In many cases, binational same-sex couples face prosecution, hefty
fines and deportations by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. As
a result, many U.S. citizens must often emigrate with their partners and
families to countries with more fair-minded immigration laws.
“We have struggled so hard to play by the rules,” states
Kelly McGowan, a U.S. citizen who, along with her partner Natalie Fuz, a
French citizen who competes internationally for the United States in
kickboxing tournaments, is affected by the current immigration policy.
“If Natalie were not so talented we would be out of options and be
forced abroad. It’s great that her abilities have helped us remain
in the U.S. together, but I know so many talented people who have been
forced to leave the country because of these discriminatory laws.
It’s such a waste.”
To schedule interviews with binational same-sex couples who are
available to speak with the media on this issue, including
Spanish-speaking couples, please contact Chris Johnson at 202/216-1580
or email@example.com or Adam Francoeur at
Immigration Equality at 212/714-2904 x21 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights
organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end
discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves
fundamental fairness and equality for all.
Immigration Equality is a national
organization that works to end discrimination in U.S. immigration law;
to reduce the negative impact of that law on the lives of lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive people; and to help obtain asylum
for those persecuted in their home country based on their sexual
orientation, transgender identity or HIV status.