Much of Out4Immigration’s efforts over the years has been focused on securing equal immigration rights for same-sex binational couples. The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) is bill that seeks to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to add the words “and permanent partners” wherever one finds the word “spouse”, and has been our hope for righting this wrong. Binational couples, families, and their respective communities need to encourage members of the House and Senate to become cosponsors.
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has repeatedly rebuffed requests by community members to cosponsor UAFA. Historically, the concerns she has stated include the contentiousness of issues related to same-sex marriage and immigration–especially voicing concerns about fraud, even though UAFA stipulates tough penalties in those instances, just as for heterosexual couples. On a larger point of immigration reform, she has expressed her preference to support comprehensive immigration reform, rather than piecemeal legislation like UAFA to deal with specific communities or issues. Out4Immigration and its supporters have taken issue with this stance of the Senator’s, believing this to be an issue more relevant to civil rights and equality than immigration—and thus an issue worthy of her support—not to mention the feeling it leaves behind that she does not get how injurious current laws are for many Americans and their families.
Feinstein’s intervention in 2009 on behalf of Shirley Tan and Jay Mercado, a California couple with two sons, is exactly the response we would hope for from her in the face of the discrimination our families face. Sadly, when it comes to every other family affected by this issue, Senator Feinstein has shown little interest in making this issue a priority, even as many lives are torn apart by it.
In a recent interview with Frontiers Magazine, Senator Feinstein spoke about the need for DOMA repeal—and as some may be aware has authored the Respect for Marriage Act to that end—yet rejected family reunification for LGBT as relevant to that effort. Considering the years in which we have been appealing to Senator Feinstein through letters, phone calls, and meetings with aides to support UAFA, we found her lack of knowledge and awareness on this issue disheartening and disturbing—and grounds for this week’s petition letter calling on her to champion this issue at last as she works to seek the Respect for Marriage Act’s passage.