Yasmin Nair

UAFA (Uniting American Families Act): Facts and Fiction

Filed By Yasmin Nair | June 02, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: comprehensive immigration reform, Immigration, Immigration Reform, Permanent Parnters, UAFA, Uniting American Families Act

This piece originally appeared on Queercents.com and reappears here with some changes. An account of what transpired there can be found at "Yasmin Nair: Eat This!" Or: How to Leave Comments Without Going up In Flames." No matter how much you disagree, I hope Projectors will avoid the combination of vitriol, emotional manipulation, and downright lies that seems inevitable whenever UAFA is actually scrutinised. I know that we can instead push a conversation forward as we did in my "Eat This!" post. UAFA goes to a Senate hearing on June 3.

Shirley Tan came here in 1986 as a tourist. Then, she overstayed her visa, supposedly after meeting her female partner Jay Mercado who was, like her, originally from the Phillipines. Mercado is currently a citizen, but Tan is still undocumented. They have been domestic partners for a while, according to a People article, and even wed in 2004. Tan gave birth to their twin sons who are both citizens. In 1995, Tan applied for asylum because, in 1979, according to her, a cousin shot her in the head and killed her mother and sister. In 2002, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) served Tan with an order of deportation, but the couple claim to never have received it. Finally, this year, on January 28, ICE agents showed up at the couple's Pacifica California home and arrested her. Today, after a flurry of press coverage, comes the news that her order of deportation has been stayed through 2010 and a private bill on her behalf has been issued in Congress.

Immigration Equality and other supporters of Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) have made Shirley Tan and her family members the poster children for a piece of legislation that, they claim, would guarantee that binational couples like the Tan-Mercados are able to stay together. Why is this important? Under existing law, in many circumstances, heterosexual married citizens or permanent residents are able to sponsor their partners for immigration.

The average person on the street assumes that immigration through marriage is a "Ta-da!" solution. Your partner/best friend's visa expired and she might have to return to her country when she'd rather stay here? Ta-da! A quick visit to the County marriage office and all your problems are solved. UAFA proffers to many the same quick-fix method by simply inserting the words "permanent partners" wherever the word "spouse" is mentioned. In reality, immigration through marriage, even for straight couples, doesn't work so easily.


I'm against UAFA for a number of reasons, not the least of which is this: even if immigration through marriage/permanent partnership is a solution, who says it's the ideal solution anyway? And why push for a law that guarantees rights to a privileged few while leaving the plight of others unquestioned?

As an immigration rights activist, my concern is with comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). The current immigration crisis has come about because the United States feeds on cheap labor and the exploitation of millions, the very people it chooses to dispose of quickly and crudely via the mechanisms of raids and deportations. It does this because it knows that there is more cheap labor to be had because of the conditions of "free trade" it has created, conditions that guarantee a breakdown in the economies of countries like Mexico. These conditions, in turn, guarantee the flow of people desperate to find a living here.

But, ah, you might say, but Shirley Tan isn't one of them. Tan and Mercado, as the People article makes clear, are upstanding suburbanites. Why, she's even a stay-at-home soccer mom! Rachel Tiven of Immigration Equality drives the nail home in a quote: "They are exactly the kind of people you want living in this country." Right. The others can just rot in hell. You know the ones we mean - the day laborers who move from job to job, underpaid and overexploited; the low-paid workers who build suburban houses for us on the cheap as opposed to living in them, and so on.

This is only my first problem with UAFA - it doesn't really change the paradigms of immigration. It fixates on an emotional and affective problem, posited as a problem of true love - what's truer than decades of living together and children? It's a quick-fix solution for a privileged few and does nothing to address the larger economic crisis that is immigration in the United States. Proponents of UAFA have made it clear that they will fight for it to be a stand-alone bill if it doesn't become part of CIR. You might argue that gays and lesbians deserve to have a bill that just speaks to their own interests, damn it. After all, haven't we endured enough discrimination in a country that doesn't even recognize our marriages?

Well, not really. Just like gay marriage was thrust down "our" collective throat as "the gay rights cause" (excuse me, when did we vote on that and who made these gay marriage proponents our leaders anyway?), UAFA is now being presented as THE immigration cause for LGBT people.

If you look at the rhetoric emerging from the groups agitating for this, one rationale emerges from this over and over again: Our relationships are not recognised by the state, unlike those of heterosexuals, so we need this in order to be equal to heterosexuals.

And this is where IE et al's "this is not gay marriage" logic breaks down completely. Because: heterosexuals in domestic partnerships with foreign citizens or who would like their friends, lovers etc to be able to migrate to the U.S to join them are not allowed to sponsor them. So, in effect, what UAFA supporters are saying is this: We want the same rights as *married* couples, not single and attached couples who have lovers and friends they'd like to bring over. In other words, in all this rhetoric about equality, we're conveniently forgetting that the only heterosexuals with whom we'd like parity are... married couples, not just couples. So, in that sense, while the term "gay marriage" may be assiduously avoided, it does in fact completely circumscribe the UAFA legislation.

If we as a gay and lesbian community are to speak about immigration in any form, we need to understand the larger context in which such bills operate. The UAFA will not benefit every gay and lesbian couple, and it's going to be a distraction from CIR. It makes a grand symbolic gesture, but it's also most likely an exercise in futility that will not, in fact, even benefit many binational couples.

For instance, if you or your partner entered the country illegally and without inspection, chances are that spousal sponsorship won't help anyway. But, and here's a huge complication that can enter even for straight couples: under certain circumstances - even a spouse can be subject to a 10-year ban, which means that she/he will have to return to the country of origin and not return for a decade.

Is your head spinning yet?

What it comes down to is this: Under very narrow circumstances, Shirley Tan's case could be replicated in a straight binational marriage, but each case is unique and not all straight marriages are automatic routes to citizenship. Tan's case is somewhat complicated because she also sought to gain asylum, a petition that was denied (I'll write more about asylum in an upcoming column). But even if all things were equal, there's the issue of economics. UAFA deems it necessary that the sponsoring partner show proof of ample resources, which leaves poorer people out of the picture. In fact, IE and HRC (another organization that's keenly behind this bill) representatives at a recent immigration conference I attended spoke about the need to show the economic costs if binational couples decided to leave the United States for a country like Canada that recognizes their relationships - they might just up and leave! This is the supposed trump card - if gay and lesbian couples aren't allowed to be together, several of them with lucrative businesses will just take them to countries like Canada. So there.

Of course, if you don't have the resources, tough luck. And good lawyers who won't just take your money and run can be hard to find. In addition, the speed with which your immigration application goes through the system depends a lot on your country of origin. What most people don't know is that immigration law is an arcane and shape-shifting monster that's subject to the whims of issues as fickle as shifting relations between United States and relevant countries. So, if your partner is from a country like, say the Netherlands or France, the chances are that your passage will be easier. If you're from Iran or Pakistan - well, how easy do think your application will be? And then there's the fact that green card marriages are subject to incredibly close and personal questioning by immigration officials, including details about your sex life.

What's also left out of the whole spouse/permanent partnership issue is the fact that such relationships are also likely to be rife with abuse. UAFA specifically requires that partners demonstrate financial interdependency. Partnerships, like straight marriages, will be subject to a two-year period during which much of the power rests with the sponsoring partner. If you're on your spouse's H1-B, you can't get a social security number and you can't apply for jobs. The Hindu, an Indian newspaper, has written about the abuse of women on their husbands' H-4 visas. Is this the kind of situation we feminist queers fought for? Do we seriously believe that the pure love between gays and lesbian couples makes it impossible for such abuse to occur?

Did you really think your love would be enough?

At the very least, the law needs to change so that it's more flexible and grants people like Tan the leeway to be in the country they now call home. But, at the same time, ask yourself, as either a queer or a straight citizen, about those millions of undocumented who don't have the resources to leave. Consider those millions of undocumented who might be in binational relationships but are not considered idea families/relationships because they lack the money and respectability that the law demands. And be both wary and critical of the dramatic rhetoric being used to push UAFA.

UAFA supporters are fond of saying that people in binational relationships are "love exiles." But a person is in exile only if forced out of the country, often under the threat of death, for political beliefs. The term exile simply does not fit. Continuing their use of such overly dramatic and misleading terminology, UAFA supporters also write and talk about the "horrible choice" between love and country. But this supposes that only the American citizen or permanent partner has a dreadful choice to make in leaving the U.S - and that the foreign partner has no qualms about leaving their home country. Alex Blaze, in the comments section of various posts I've written on this topic, has pointed out the absurdity and ultra-nationalism of such statements, which assume that the U.S is the best place to be. Furthermore, as he has pointed out, surely we should remember that people in binational relationships always have to choose between one country and another - why is the choice seen as so dramatically worse when the U.S. partner might have to leave?

UAFA's emotional rhetoric and arguments erase the larger context of CIR and persuade us to think of immigration in narrow and affective terms. What do we, whether straight or gay, really know about the larger picture of immigration reform? Why, in these undoubtedly sad cases of binational cases, are we willing to only act on our emotions but not consider asking: What happens to the larger issue of CIR?

UAFA goes to a Senate hearing on June 3 and its supporters are enthusiastic. If it does eventually pass, I guarantee you that 99% of those agitating for the law will withdraw from any consideration of CIR - that much is evident from the tenor of comments. Several UAFA supporters here and on IE have made it clear that they don't even know - or care to know - that it is supposed to benefit permanent residents, not just American citizens. So much for knowing the details of legislation that you claim to be invested in. And readers of both Bilerico and Queercents have witnessed the anti-immigrant sentiments and virulent xenophobia of several UAFA supporters. I'd like to believe that these are not the majority of binational couples. Sadly, in the absence of too much sustained response from saner binational couples, I'm forced to assume that the racism and anti-immigrant comments are typical of this group.*

**The fact that so many supporters of UAFA are conservative and anti-immigration reform doesn't mean that we shouldn't want some kind of reasonable solution to the issue of binational relationships. But the problem is that UAFA is currently being presented as separate from other immigration concerns and as something that has no relationship to the larger immigration crisis (that will no doubt change if it doesn't succeed as a stand-alone bill). This is especially evident in the way that binational couples are portrayed as benign and helpless lovers only, as if their lives are completely untouched by the issues of labour and exploitation that mark the lives of so many undocumented people. In this discourse, the undocumented partner in a binational relationship is turned into an impossible subject; as if there's no such thing. And it never seems to occur to anyone that, perhaps, there are undocumented singles with deep attachments to people here, or undocumented people with families here who might suffer from being "torn apart." UAFA supporters have a right to want a bill that benefits them only. But they also want it both ways - UAFA, in the terms in which it's currently presented, is both an immigration bill and something that has nothing to do with the messier side of immigration, the stuff that leads to people becoming undocumented in the first place.**

Some lawyers and experts have said to me, off the record, that UAFA doesn't really stand much of a chance because Republicans and Democrats alike worry that it's a way of writing gay marriage into federal law. And, let's be blunt about it: UAFA is a backdoor entrance to gay marriage (see above). There's a chance that UAFA will be forced into CIR, if it doesn't make it as a stand-alone bill - and that means that CIR itself will suffer because UAFA might well become the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back. Gays and lesbians in binational couples and their supporters will be able to make an emotional and symbolic point about the discrimination they suffer, but the costs to CIR may be irreparable.

So, go ahead and protest for Shirley Tan and others like her. But if you can't or won't protest on behalf of the millions of others who don't fit the cozy and unrealistic idea of "family" as well, don't protest at all.

*A rare exception is Dave Seattle, over at The Fake Mexican. Seattle indicates that IE was "reluctant to post [his] comments on their blog when [he stated that his partner] is an undocumented [M]exican national." And a few of the initial commenters on Queercents were rational and thoughtful in their comments but were eventually swept aside in the tide of animosity.

** Added June 3.


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Obviously, there are a whole host of problems with our current immigration system, but I fail to see how the presence of those problems should lead anyone to oppose a measure that would bring greater parity between same-sex and opposite-sex couples in similar circumstances. The point of this legislation is to bring same-sex couples closer to full equality with their heterosexual peers while marriage rights remain unlikely at the federal level. Rejecting this proposal because it doesn't address a myriad of other problems is self-defeating and completely unrealistic. Should we also reject legislation to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell because it wouldn't bring the troops home from Iraq or because it doesn't address sexual harassment in the military? Should we reject ENDA if the bill doesn't also seek to fix all other problems in our labor markets? It's all well and good to care about these issues, but I find it strange to care about them so much as to become willing to accept any incremental victories. The UAFA would help many people who really are in a miserable situation. Arguments about class divisions and whether the U.S. is really the best place to live ultimately miss the point. Yes, we could enact generally more progressive laws, but we must also ensure equality for LGBT people under the system that we have.

I complete agree with your comments. I really don't understand gay people who work against gay interests because those interest to cover every other situation in the world. Are they playing into the hands of the "born again bigots?" Perhaps they shouldn't pretend to be working for gay rights and just get out and do their thing in other places.

You raise some great points, Yasmin, but, as you know, I don't share your views on this bill.

UAFA is intended only as a way to bring US law in line with most Western nations that already have similar provisions in their immigration laws. That's it.

No nation I'm aware of has open immigration, including the legalising of illegal immigrants. Like the US, they deport illegal immigrants, including those who over stay legal visas. I don't see the relevance to UAFA since, as you say, straight couples are caught up in that, too.

No nation I'm aware of allows citizens or permanent residents to sponsor "friends, lovers etc"; they all require a deep and enduring personal relationship, either as partners or as blood family. UAFA is not unique in this, so the "gay marriage by stealth" argument isn't valid.

Every other country's laws that I'm aware of puts a large burden of proof on the couple "proving" their relationship is "real", including financial and emotional interdependence. I can't speak to the situation of Indian wives in America, but it sounds to me like a red herring: This requirement does not automatically turn the sponsored partner into a weak possession and, yes, often love is enough.

Similarly, the discussion of Shirley Tan and especially the out-of-context comments of Rachel Tiven are emotive distractions that to me don't prove anything. Of course some people backing UAFA are are racist or classist; racists are everywhere and back all kinds of issues we both might support—racism, of course, is far more than actively trying to keep other races down.

I also think you're making too much of the "love exile" thing: Americans are trying to change American law, so of course they put it in American terms. I completely agree that too many Americans assume that everyone wants to live in the US, but I also think that all Americans ought to have equal rights to bring their partners into the US legally, just as, in many cases, their partners can bring them into their own countries.

Finally, you may be right about UAFA supporters not supporting comprehensive immigration reform, though neither of us can possibly know that for sure until we're talking about real-live legislation. I strongly support the concept of CIR, but I'm not giving blank-cheque endorsement (it might contain a "guest worker" provision, for example).

The one thing on which you and I emphatically agree is that this subject is one that demands more discussion. If there's anywhere it might happen, it's here.

Actually, Aaron,
I don't support the efforts behind lifting DADT either, but that's because I'm adamantly against the conservative ideology of war to begin with. A conversation on DADT is not what I'm after here, so I'll reserve my comments on that for another post.

My issue with UAFA is that it could have, potentially, been a way for the gay community to redesign the ways in which people's lives and relationships are configured. Instead, IE and the gay orgs behind it chose to simply replicate the worst gendered and economic paradigms. And, to make matters worse, UAFA has been presented as THE immigration bill to gays and lesbians when, in fact, it's solely about American citizens/permanent partners whose partners are foreign nationals. Unlike you and Arthur, I don't believe that even spousal sponsorship has anything to do with "equality" - it simply replicates a form of exploitation and writes it into law. A spouse, under current law, is completely dependent on the sponsoring partner.

UAFA would not, in fact help many people. You don't have to be simply undocumented for it to not to work for you - spousal sponsorship does not happen at the drop of hat, and there are circumstances under which people can be subject to the 10-year ban. But, as you know, I've already said all that in my post - and you conveniently ignore all that.

Arthur,

As usual you pick and choose and decontextualise my arguments, evading the larger critique of UAFA. So, let me go through some specifics of what you point out. Unlike you, I do this not to decontexualise statements but to provide the larger context of immigration that you avoid.

Statements like "No nation I'm aware of has open immigration, including the legalising of illegal immigrants. Like the US, they deport illegal immigrants, including those who over stay legal visas" are among the red herrings in your post. They also betray your callousness towards the undocumented, whose legal status is frequently not of their own making but brought about by a combination of arcane laws and exploitation. I'm hardly asking for open immigration (although that's not a bad idea). I wonder if you're aware that a lot of people who become "illegal" (immigration activists prefer the term "undocumented," fyi) are in fact in binational relationships, and in such relationships with U.S citizens/permanent residents. UAFA's supporters assiduously ignore such realities (and I recommend you look at Dave Seattle's post).

Eithne Luibheid, in her articles in GLQ makes the excellent point that the concept of legality is itself a slippery one. UAFA replicates the wishful longing of an immigration system that imagines all entrants into the U.S as easily divisible into legal and illegal, good and bad, but in fact there are myriad and complex reasons why someone might become undocumented. You point out one way - of overstaying the visa - but your statement makes it clear that you see this as simply some kind of wilful desire to contravene the law. But take the example of Paolo (not his real name) who came here on a student visa. He contracted HIV and, because the U.S does not allow immigrants with HIV to remain/migrate and because he would be socially marginalized in his home country AND because, shock and horror, he had come to think of this as his home country, he ended up going underground and living as an undocumented person.

So, you can draw the lines all you want but the fact remains that U.S immigration laws make it so that the distinction between documented and undocumented is never clear. The NYT has been doing a series of articles, including some on entire families where some members are documented and others are not, even if everyone came in at the same time.

I raise the issue of Indian wives (and, for that matter, we could say the same thing about mail order brides from Russia) because, actually, it is completely germane to the issue here -- which is that spousal sponsorship allows potential for economic and emotional abuse and exploitation.

As for the blatant racism and xenophobia of UAFA supporters: As I've said before, the fact that so many of them are racist and xenophobic doesn't mean that something should not be done about such relationships. But what I'm critical of is the way in which a deeply conservative and reactionary piece of legislation suddenly became THE solution without any public discussion of the facts.

As for sponsoring friends and lovers - actually, in the 19th century, Americans *could* do so. So I'm not proposing anything new here.

And UAFA is, in fact, a beginning argument for gay marriage. A lot of its supporters on the IE board certainly think so, the last time I checked - unless IE has gone in and expunged those remarks. And, in fact, you don't have to look too far - take a look at Aaron's statement, right above yours: "The point of this legislation is to bring same-sex couples closer to full equality with their heterosexual peers while marriage rights remain unlikely at the federal level." Ah, but the "full equality" only happens within marital relationships, no?

In essence, both Aaron and Arthur conveniently pick and choose specific sentences to take apart but avoid addressing the larger framework of immigration reform.

"Equality" as proposed by UAFA and the gay marriage movement is a specious argument - it allows us to imagine that all we need to do is to achieve an A=B equilibrium, while forgetting that immigration is not black and white and that the current system only furthers all kinds of inequalities. You can argue all you want that such inequalities are not your concern. That's not where I'm coming from since, as someone who's actually concerned about immigration reform in a larger context. Activists should actually think that people should care about more than just individual cases. In that case, love is not enough.

I didn't "decontextualise" your arguments at all: I disagree with them and pointed out some specific points—which is exactly what you said you were doing. I assume that readers of my comment will know the context of your statements from having read your post; if they don't, that's not my fault.

You don't know if I have "callousness towards the undocumented" to "betray" or not—you're making an assumption based on the fact you disagree with what I said (apparently because I didn't use the "correct" word). I didn't say that being undocumented is of their making, but it doesn't matter: The point you ignored is that NO country gives undocumented people in their countries the sort of treatment you advocate, though some are obviously more humane than others. This is an issue for comprehensive reform, not UAFA.

You say "a lot" of undocumented folk get into relationships with Americans. If you're arguing that US immigration law generally should be changed to allow sponsorship of partners in the country illegally, that's fine and something I don't oppose. But that doesn't mean that gay couples should be disadvantaged under current law until that day arrives.

"As for sponsoring friends and lovers - actually, in the 19th century, Americans *could* do so. So I'm not proposing anything new here." Yes, but in this century no country does that, and it would have to be a part of comprehensive reform, not UAFA.

"Activists should actually think that people should care about more than just individual cases." I agree. So why do you keep using specific cases to make your points?

Yasmin, I'm not your enemy here: I agree with you on most of what you say, just not at all about UAFA. This could be a starting point in a dialogue about finding the common ground for larger reform, but if you insist on dismissing those who disagree with you on one part of one issue, you'll chase away potential allies. And, you won't get that more civil discussion you hope for.

Arthur,

Thanks for writing "This is an issue for comprehensive reform, not UAFA." and "Yes, but in this century no country does that, and it would have to be a part of comprehensive reform, not UAFA." Well, as I've indicated, I'm for comprehensive reform, not the UAFA. I think that much is apparent by now, is it not? So, in sum, I'm for comprehensive immigration reform, and I don't believe that UAFA is part of CIR. You have just made it clear that you don't believe that UAFA is part of CIR. There we go. I don't things could be made clearer. You've essentially crystallised my main argument.

But if you're referring to my use of the Tan-Mercado case - well, that's because the case is seen as emblematic of ALL UAFA cases, and it was necessary to dismantle the myths set up around that given its potency as an example and how the media has lapped up the story as THE reason to support UAFA. As for examples like Paolo, well, that illustrates my point about the slipperiness of the distinction between legal and "illegal" that you base so much of your argument on. Unlike IE and others, I don't use Paolo as the be-all and end-all case to prove my arguments but to examine what remains outside the margins of UAFA.

I hardly think of you as my enemy - I don't waste energy on such simplistic ways of configuring people around me. I haven't dismissed you; I've pointed out the flaws in your logic.

In the end, I have no desire to engage in circuitous arguments about who said what that don't even get at the issues.

If anyone else has questions about what I've written, or even an argument, fine, I'll engage. I'm not going to be baited into an endless round of nit-picky arguments that don't go beyond, "but you said this, and not this, why would you say that?" and distract from the larger points. To put it bluntly, I want this post to be a place to argue the politics of UAFA and not a place to view some "epic" battle over who said what at a semantic level. This isn't a show, it's a discussion forum.

colored queer | June 2, 2009 8:01 PM

This bill UAFA does nothing to help single, poor, and LGBT and HIV+ immigrants who are most likely to be of color. Most people in binational same-sex relationships tend to be white US citizens with white Europeans. This is one of the reasons that white gay organizations like HRC and IE can care less about comprehensive immigration reform which will benefit huge numbers of Latinos, Africans and Asians. And ofcourse this deeply held racial divide between white binational couples and "illegal" immigrants (including single LGBT immigrants of color) comes out in racist comments of self-appointed white leaders like Rachel Tivens of Immigration Equality that there are good immigrants (who fuck US citizens)who should be allowed to stay and then bad immigrants (single, poor, day laborer types, HIV+ and mostly of color) who should be kicked out. It is amazing to see this obvious intolerance of people of color by white "leaders" like Rachel Tiven. Does she represents "immigrants" or "US citizens" in an "immigrant rights" group? How ironic!! what is next for white gays then -- create a black gay group and appoint whites to run it and speak for blacks?

Why pretend if you don't give a damm about "all" immigrants? and yes then white gay community has every right to complain how hispanics and asians when they do not support their "marriage rights." These double standards of white gay orgs like Immigration Equality or HRC do not go unnoticed in other communities of color.

"UAFA does nothing to help single, poor, and LGBT and HIV+ immigrants who are most likely to be of color."

It doesn't pretend to: It simply makes US immigration law the same as that of many countries in the world that recognise same-sex couples. Can you name a country that DOES help "single, poor, and LGBT and HIV+ immigrants" of whatever colour? Many countries have exclusions for HIV+ people (although many have far better policies than the US), most won't allow "poor" people in except under the UN Refugee Programme. This isn't an argument against UAFA, but for wider immigration reform.

No countries discriminate against single people as such—provided they're skilled migrants and meet certain criteria (usually relating to age, health, criminal record). Poor single people could theoretically still qualify this way, too, though in most countries that's probably not likely.

"Most people in binational same-sex relationships tend to be white US citizens with white Europeans."

You can't possibly know that because there's no objective data on the number or makeup of such bi-national couples in the US. Believing it to be so doesn't make it true.

I can't speak for all proponents of UAFA, and I won't defend groups I'm not a member of or contributor to. However, supporting UAFA in no way means rejecting comprehensive immigration reform—or vice versa, for that matter.

UAFA has been around for a long time, in one form or another; it's been introduced in the last three Congresses that I'm know about (maybe someone else can say if it's been proposed longer than that). So this push is nothing new and hasn't come along to block larger reform.

The points that you and Yasmin raise about inequities in the law that UAFA doesn't address are important and they must be addressed in comprehensive immigration reform. But that's not what UAFA is about. Personally, I don't care if the UAFA reforms come through stand-alone legislation or as part of a UAFA-inclusive comprehensive reform bill, just that they happen. That doesn't mean I don't care about or won't support comprehensive reform, because I do.


Yasmin- I am surprised that you are against the conservative politics of war, since you espouse the radical right's position on almost everything remotely touching upon marriage issues. Let's face it, the word marriage sets you into a frenzy to try to find a way to defeat proposals that would help a great many persons in our communities. There are a great many people who are interested in serious committed relationships, marriages, civil unions, or whatever else may be a step in the right direction. Denouncing the current immigration reform because it does not cure every other problem out there, and your frequent tired argument about legislation only serving a privileged few is really really getting old. To paraphrase the cliche, you have become Yasmin one-note, always singing the same tune no matter what the issues are.

Pete,

Being critical of something that the Right is also critical of does not automatically make you a right-winger. The left should not be defined solely by the right. Unfortunately that kind of knee-jerk response is fairly typical of a myopic gay movement (and much of the left) which lost its way - and its imagination - a long time ago.

But thanks for reading my one-note piece.

"Yasmin One-Note." Another great t-shirt. Thanks.


colored queer | June 2, 2009 10:57 PM

The question remains: why white gay orgs like Immigration Equality do NOT support comprehensive immigration reform which will also help a huge group of LGBT and HIV+ immigrants who are not fucking US citizens.

Immigration reform that ties immigration status to US citizens or employers is not "humane" and will result in "abuse" of immigrants (mostly of color).

My point that UAFA would only help white Europeans should also be read in the context of domestic violence against foreign spouses. White Europeans are least likely to endure domestic violence just to get a "green card." On the other hand LGBT immigrants of color would be exposed to horrendous abuse in relationships with US citizens if they are dependant on US citizens for immigration status. So, there are two issues:

1) Gay binational couplles are mostly white US citizens and white Europeans (obviously white gay orgs like Immigration Equality wouldn't put out this kind of information which may be detrimental to their cause).

2) white Europeans as explained above are least likely to get abused and are also likely to fly through immigration system which has historically favored Europeans and discriminated against people of color.

So, UAFA would primarily help whites (US citizens in relationships with Europeans) and that is exactly why you see such inflammatory and racist statements (good vs bad immigrant analysis) by Rachel Tivens of Immigration Equality and silence from other gay orgs for comprehensive immigraiton reform.

Lets face it: gay rights movement has been historically pretty dominated by whites at the expense of LGBT people of color and this whole immigration issues as defined by white gay groups like Immigration Equality or Human Rights Campaign is no exception.

And finally to Arthur, please be prepared for comprehensive immigraton reform with or without UAFA in the near future. Gay community has failed to realize the political muscle of growing numbers of people of color including immigrants. So, please drop that analysis that no other country offers legalization of "single and poor" immigrants. Those immigrants clean your toilets and bring you cheap chicken so that is why US "needs" them and it does not matter what our gay "leaders" like Rachel Tivens may think of them as the imagination of white gays is limited to that narrow and little world of white binational couples.

To all who are reading this piece:

I don't want this to get bogged down in the usual "show me the proof" arguments, so I'd like to address the liberal dogma of demanding to know what alternatives are whenever faced with a stringent critique. Or, what I call the "show me proof/solutions before you dare to disagree with me/what other countries help the poor etc/what's the objective data?" argument.

As the estimable Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore has written, asking for alternatives/examples/proof when confronted with a challenge to one's belief in a system is a classic liberal strategy. This kind of demand allows you to evade the responsibility of defending your position by putting the onus on the questioner to provide facts/alternatives. But the questioners here are the ones still raising unanswered questions.

This doesn't mean that anyone has a right to simply shoot off suppositions without proof. But surely we can agree that there are certain ideologies and trends that don't have to be pinned down with empirical data before we agree to have a conversation.

We could argue that, for instance, that racism is still a pervasive fact of life in the United States without being compelled to haul every one of our people of colour friends in front of a court to prove that, yes, empirically, racism is a fact of everyday life for many people of colour. (Of course, if you don't believe that people of colour face racism in their everyday lives, you're on your own; I've got no way to help you out of that).

Similarly, I think it's fair to assume that, given the deeply conservative discourse around citizenship and partnership propounded by UAFA and its supporters (and no one here disputes that it's a conservative discourse); given that most UAFA material pretends that it's the U.S. citizen/resident whose needs matter most; given that citizenship is inherently coded as white (for that see a history of citizenship, such as Eithne Luibheid's excellent work); given that the majority of immigrants are people of colour; given what we have seen and know about the antipathy of UAFA supporters to immigration reform (even just evidenced by commenters here who insist that UAFA IS NOT CIR) and to "illegal immigrants," that, yes, in fact a substantial number of - if not most - binational couples are composed mostly of white people.

The point being: constantly issuing a demand that someone PROVE empirically something like the fact of racial make-up may look like a fair question. BUT, in the context of a discourse on immigration where even the commenters asking for proof of racial make-up are themselves clearly opposed to immigration reform, it's simply yet another distraction.

Onwards to the more substantive dialogue that I know we're all capable of having.

casiexiliada | June 5, 2009 5:32 PM

I am so outraged by reading the original post and some of these comments and, to be perfectly candid, I'm almost in tears about the ways in which many queer people of color who are activists, LIKE MYSELF, go so far to sabotage the chances for progress on many issues of injustice affecting LGBT people, many of whom LIKE MYSELF, who are progressive and and committed activists and who are also people of color. The first duty in having a voice, as the writer does, is to be responsible. Reading these comments, I feel like something this does more damage to 1) the cause of binational same-sex couples (both already in the US and separated by immigration and marriage laws in two countries) and 2) the power of alliance-building, which is something that Immigration Equality is trying to do in the struggle to make this issue visible and to ultimately get immigration equality for same-sex couples; and 3) the opportunity to work towards building a healthy multi-racial multi-class dialogue within the LGBT/queer community aboutthe meaning of justice. Without knowing the people who are affected by this issue, or the strategies, or the dialogue behind the scenes that organizations are using, I find it so unconsciounable that the writer will have such a public, strong take on the issues. Again, this is the kind of vitriot I would expect from the Right, not from other queer folks. My friends, until the revolution comes, we have to continue making inroads to win battles and build for the revolution, but while we build for the revolution, we must grab every opportunity not to leave others behind, whether out of ignorance or expediency. We cannot cut off our nose to spite our face!

To refute the point that this issue only affects white lesbians and gays coupled with Europeans, I'll ask, do you know who I am? Do you know who my partner is and what brought us together and what keeps us together despite the emotional and financial hardships? I am dark-skinned first generation immigrant since 1989 (naturalized US citizen for 13 years, who first became a citizen for the right to protest on multiple issues without fearing deportation) from Latin America and from a low-income background (though now after life, education, and work in the US, and without counting my debt and student loans, I could be considered middle-class) and I'm partnered with a low-income/working-class woman from South America who, due to her class background, can never get a tourist or student visa to the US, who has no other connection to the US than her relationship with me and can't be petitioned by a relative, and who can't travel to the US and ask for asylum, because the daily harassment and small and large injustices she experiences in her country (similar but not equal to the ones many of us in the US are familiar with)) won't be significant enough in the eyes of US law to amount to an asylum claim of persecution. Do you see why this woman and I may have something in common and why we might want to be together, to make more real what already is?

And, as it's been clearly stated, I can't marry my partner because neither of our countries allows us to do that. I can mention 10 couples I know who fit my profile, with the only difference being that their partner is already in the US, with an expired visa or with a visa under a false name. Oh, and some of those undocumented lesbians are also poor, or brown, or Mexican, to be precise to your comments. We are more like Shirley and Jay than Ellen and Portia. So, this whole idea that this only affects white people in the US and Europe is false. And, I think we only create bigger holes when we think, say, and propagate this idea.

Point #2: Many of us who are affected by and advocating on this issue are long-time immigrant rights activists of color with immigrant experience, whether documented or not. I entered this country with a green card twenty years ago, have been naturalized for almost fifteen, and have never been personally affected by the issue of undocumentation nor have I seen people in my family struggle with that (because the first ones arrived in the 1960s as exploited domestic workers sponsored by employers, before I was born) . Yet, I have been fighting, as a volunteer or staff in immigrant rights organizations, whether for an amnesty or for immigrant political power since 1994. When I have not been able to volunteer, or to work in the field, I've given money, contacted Congress, translated in individual cases, or written in newspapers, all in the name of justice, on an issue that technically doesn't touch me directly (remember that my partner has never entered the US, so again it would seem that I have no real benefit in doing this). And many people like me, and many people unlike me who are involved in IE and UAFA specifically care about just immigration system and immigrant policy and we simply don't accept that in an unprecented day like we have today to pass a more just immigration law hundreds of thousands of us will get left behind. Last October I knocked on doors for Obama in Pennsylvania with Congressman HOnda (who just added the UAFA language to his family reunification bill) and who had come from California to energize us weary volunteers and I can't tell you how proud I am to see that a politician of color who is obviously straight and who helped elect Obama and who comes from a history of discrimination in this country has had the courage to also seize the moment and include UAFA in his bill, despite losing the catholic endorsement. It is very difficult for many of us who have multiple identities to be part of these debates and to fight battles that don't include us.

#3: IE's strategy: I'll try not to divulge a lot of information here obtained through the membership rights conferred by my $20 monthly contribution to IE. As an organization that has been around for over a decade, Immigration Equality cares about Comprehensive Immigration Reform, but has as many other advocacy organizations, working on different issues (and we can disagree on advocacy vs. organizing)focuses on SOME key issues affecting LGBTIQ immigrants, like the HIV ban, asylum, and immigration rights for binational couples. Does the writer have any proof that IE doesn't care about the rights of all immigrants, that IE may not be working with CIR-supporting advocates behind the scenes to help move CIR forward for all the right reasons or that IE doesn't want this issue to be part of CIR instead of a stand-alone bill? I also take issue with this idea that IE's language is nationalistic and conservative. Give me a break! We just elected the first dark-skinned US president, based on notions of nationalism and patriotism and capitalism. And, sadly, it wouldn't have been possible wtihout that soaring language about americanism, and upward mobility, blah blah. All of us who worked for Obama's campaign, and gave money, and made calls, and knocked doors had different motivations for getting him elected and with different ideas about what his ascendance to the presidence would mean and while many of us are disappointed already, I'm sure few of us could say that we wish it were different. As someone mentioned, the communications and political strategy used by IE is based on this idea of tax-paying americans advocating the US government to change unjust policies that make us less equal in a country that calls itself a model of equality and justice; this is no different than the language used by other equality and justice organizations to make claims either for all people or for specific groups affected by different issues or as allies (please see the video of the hearings with the NAACP and the American Bar Association making statements in favor of UAFA). If anything, IE is constrained to use the language in the most recent immigration and naturalization act, which is quite conservative, if it wants to see this issue moved. The importance of advocating on UAFA, which was first introduced in 2000 I believe, is that it starts the conversation on the issue of binational same-sex couples. It is obvious that there are already a lot of people "standing in line", both in the US and abroad, waiting to access immigration rights, but doing nothing doesn't help the plight of binational same-sex couples, who suffer under an unfriendly immigration system, whether one individual is abroad, like my partner who again has never entered the US, or already here, which can only be fixed for everyone with CIR. There are many other voices bringing the issue of those other communities forward and those of us affected by this issue have a right to claim it in these terms, because obviously no one else will care to. And this is also designed to expose the hypocrisy of a government and a society that "values families", that wants businesses and professionals to stay in the US, that wants people to have homes and children, to take care of their elderly parents, and to follow the law. We may disagree as to whether as queer people we should be leading those lives and pursuing those goals but you can't deny that the Tan-Mercado story is so compelling because it really blows that argument in the face, after all the family goes to church, takes care of an elderly parent and raises children, has not divorced after 20 years, sits on the PTA, and oh mine, has only one breadwinner. This may not be the life I may have in mind as a queer person, but doesn't this make a good argument? Regardless of how long it takes to pass UAFA, or whether it goes anywhere, UAFA is having a great impact on educating individuals and policymakers who were not aware of this issue, politicians who thought they know all the ways in which queer people are discriminated against, people who didn't know they have constituents facing this issue. There's so much that gets lost in the marriage controversy, including the fact that without remedy in a lot of issues, whether through single laws or an omnibus bill, there are over 1,600 federal rights conferred to heterosexuals (who can marry) in the US that you don't get if you're queer, and there are countless of other laws not related to couplehood or parenthood that you can take for granted if you're straight that a queer person can't even if they're supposed to be protected (just like many of the laws that whites, regardless of sexuality, can take for granted that people of color can't) .

#4: CANADA or EUROPE ARE NOT AN OPTION and no, it doesn't help my relationship or our individual lives for me to be the person to move to her country: Why should I have to leave the US after building a life here, let alone set roots with my relatives, gotten an education and developed a fulfilling career? Why can't I stay here to continue fighting to make the US fulfill its promise in different areas? Why should the only option be to start over in another country? Going to my partner's country is something we have talked about. It's not something I can do easily as immigration rights there are restricted, even for an "American", especially a dark-skinned "American" from another (to them, lesser) Latin American country. And the truth is that even if I could and while the lgbt rights movement is getting stronger there, we'll have a bit of social and economic hell there as an openly lesbian couple where the two of us are "loud mouths" on a host of issues by either society's standards. I may not even be able to get a job, even with all my US education and bilingual skills, either because I'm black, or because I'm a lesbian, or because I'm uppity, or all of those things combined. Or because I refuse to work for a corporation or the US embassy or take a non-profit job from another woman who has probably struggled through layers of discrimination to access that position. And then there's the reality that it may not make sense financially to move to her country. After all, from the US I help her with her small business, and help pay for her university tuition and soon with her english classes (yes, she's 40, like me, and going to college for the first time). By moving to my partner's country and foregoing my not glamorous US salary at a nonprofit I can say good-bye to helping out my partner financially, to paying my student loans, to helping my mom who is here and my niece in my native country who has four children and fled an abusive man, and I can say good-bye to having a life in a country where at least fighting is possible, where I can at least hold hands without getting a fine, or contemplate where I can get a job or get sperm if I want to, whree we'll live, or what we (myself, my partner, my mother who I'm responsible for) will do next with our lives, you know, the little things we take for granted in the US, even with all the injustices that need fixing. These are also the same reasons why I can't move to my country of origin. We can't move to one of those other eighteen countries that offer immigration rights. This will mean starting over completely and leaving behind too much for us both, depending on one another too much (since you're so concerned about the potential same-sex couple abuse this won't be good either, right!) and really setting us up for failure. We would be in a completely-new land for us both, at the whim of employers, and the government, and bureaucracy and too desperate, and too unsettled and too lonely for daily life to matter.

Finally, it's not productive to pour gas on the fire. Arguments such as "I was told by either side that UAFA is not going to pass..." are very unproductive, demoralizing, and outright defeatist for someone calling herself a queer rights activist. Yes, I know we have to be realistic and it is a tough fight and no, I don't want to derail CIR, but basing arguments on cynicism, such as "good luck getting UAFA passed without the religious community" is such a slap in face. By the way, the church, our number #1 enemy, may be a reason why not more justice-minded queers are aligning behind many issues, like immigration, affecting latinos (however we feel about marriage, we owe prop 8 to the church or rather to churches). Is it possible to have some decorum in this debate and let organizations like IE who know what they are doing (after all they were successful in lifting the HIV ban, yes, to benefit those HIV+ and brown and poor immigrants the writer so intently defends)do their work, work that will benefit us all. Why give additional fodder to our enemies? Why give the opportunity to right wing activists and politicians to google UAFA and find these comments, to help in their strategy to defeat something that will benefit queer people, here or outside the US (after all, the reason my partner can't get a tourist or student visa is because she 1) is not upper class, made much harder by being an openly lesbian in her country who was born in poverty and 2) doesn't have a husband and children at 40, to prove that she'll return home when her vacation is over.) While I may have tons of difference with the priorities of many of the mainstream LGBT organizations, including those fighting for DADT or marriage, based on my principles, at the core I want every queer person to have the same access and opportunity to the choices and assumption of health and the right to grow up to be and be safe and happy that straight people in this country and in the world do. There's for sure a lot to fix in each and every country for justice to be realized even for straight people, especially females or transgender, all low-income or exploited people or darker-skinned or lower-caste people or people who are at the bottom regardless of the reason) and a lot we can all be angry about regarding the US and its imperialist and conservative history and stance (and most days during the Bush years I was ready to leave), but I don't accept that we shouldn't fight some fights just because, while we also fight to change larger structures that oppress humans, even if they're not us or we don't think they are us.

I do believe that the issues UAFA is trying to address have made US citizens of all colors who didn't have direct experience or knowledge of the immigration system in this country more aware of its limitations and injustices and have found in this issue yet another indignity faced by LGBTQ people, another indignity they can't insulate themselves from despite their corporate or surbuban lives, another indignity that flies in the face of the language in our laws and the laws of other countries that claim that everyone is equal. By seeing the limitations placed on their foreign partners (regardless of class) to enter the US legally or stay in the US temporarily or seeing the limitations placed on themselves to stay in other countries (since US citizens have entry to virtually any and every country), I think many have come to understand how it is that people may find creative ways to cross borders and stay in the US, how family ties are so compelling and leading to legal and financial risk because the options-- for everyone-- are very limited. And I think people understand better why so many people would want to come to the US--due oftentimes to foreign or economic policy involving the US, or how sexism and homophobia and transphobia are also globalized and are found in policy). I think it's such a diservice to say that people affected by this issue are racist and conservative and don't care about immigrants or people of color or about justice and equality for everyone as a concept.

While the writer has the right to her opinion on this issue, I expect more of her as a fellow queer person and as an activist of color. I would hope that only our enemies can be expected (though never excused) to provide arguments that would derail the chances of LGBTQ people to change laws and policies and conditions that dehumanize us and that uphold heterormative hierarchies. And I hopw that we continue to work on trusting and respecting one another and our priorities and our strategies, remembering that things aren't always as they seem and that ultimately, as someone has said, "justice is NOT just us!"

Casiexilidia,

I don't know what your connection to IE is, but allow me to dispel a few myths about that organisation. I'm not going to address your entire meandering comment, which is filled with a lot of material that either is not relevant to the matter at hand, or, in fact, actually proves my points. But I'll address the most glaring inaccuracies.

IE did NOT lift the HIV bar. Groups like Gay Men's Health Crisis have been working on the issue since it was instituted, in 1987, and latecomers like IE (which began in 1994) and HRC have taken credit for some of the work involved in lifting the ban. But there is, you should know, something called the Coalition to Lift the Bar and IE and HRC are members but their work has NOT been instrumental in the work.

Secondly, IE has no interest in coalition-building. And, as you pointed out, the group (contrary to what most people think) does not organize. And IE does not support CIR unless it centralises IE's causes. I know that from my own experience with them. For a significant part of 2006 and 2007, I worked with a coalition of people brought together by Queers for Economic Justice to write the first action statement on queers and immigration. IE's Adam Francouer was part of the team. The document was explicit in referring to the HIV bar and other queer-related issues.

As I wrote in an article about the issue, "After a series of intense discussions, language about families and UAFA was included in order to reflect the different groups working on the document. It was sent to a wider group of organizations; over 50 groups signed on but O4I did not. ( Interestingly, the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force did not, either. ) To our surprise, IE first signed then took its name off at a very late stage."

So, please, don't waste my or anybody's else's time with proclamations of IE's commitment to CIR - it has none, unless groups agree to make UAFA issues absolutely central to immigration reform. Our document was explicit and detailed about locating queer issues within the larger framework of immigration reform. If you want to read more about this incident, go
to:

http://tinyurl.com/98k9ms

You misrepresent me by quoting the line, "good luck getting UAFA passed without the religious community" which is from someone else entirely, in an article I don't even mention here. I never wrote that, so stop making things up.

As I understand it, your partner's economic situation in particular makes it difficult for her to enter the country - everything you've written about points to exactly what UAFA supporters will not support:
"the reason my partner can't get a tourist or student visa is because she 1) is not upper class, made much harder by being an openly lesbian in her country who was born in poverty and 2) doesn't have a husband and children at 40, to prove that she'll return home when her vacation is over.)" That points to how skewed US immigration laws are, in favor of the well-off and "productive" potential citizens. But to the point here, do you really think that someone in that position ought to be dependent on a US citizen/permanent resident to such an extent? UAFA, like spousal sponsorship in general, creates a system of extreme economic dependency, the kind that can be rife with abuse, as I've pointed out in my article. And, no, I'm not accusing you of being an abuser but I am pointing out that the system is set up to engender such abuse.

You don't mention that you, as someone who's not well-off, according to your own account (correct me if I'm wrong), may not be able to sponsor your partner even if UAFA came to pass since you may, I'm guessing, not fulfil the income requirement. Even if this doesn't fit your situation exactly, why not acknowledge that simply being a binational couple will not help people, but that they will still be subject to all kinds of onerous requirements that might keep people out anyway?

As for what queer activists of colour should or should not be working on, please remember that we're not a homogeneous lot. And I, for one, am hardly a Democrat-with-a-capital-D, and am least likely to fundraise for Obama.

Gayalltheway | June 2, 2009 11:32 PM

I agree with some who have commented above, you did raise some good points and important things that we, as a community, should be concerned about mainly regarding immigration reform. But then again, I am a person who values solutions rather than just blatantly pointing out flaws and imperfections. Since you pointed out so many flaws regarding the UAFA and how it will adversely affects the LGBT community and also other minority communities, maybe you could also suggest reasonable and practical solution(s) to the current inequality (towards same-sex binational couples) that exists within the immigration system .

My question to you is, since you have strongly opposed and stated that UAFA is not a solution - What do you suggest is the best solution, in your opinion, to deal with the tens of thousands of binational couples in the US (not including those who have already forced to move out of the country to stay together) who are facing the possibility of separation as the foreign partners' legal statuses expire (whether it be those in the US on student visa or H1B holders who lost their jobs and couldn’t find another employer who would sponsor them)?

Should the foreign partners just go back to their own countries, separate from the person they love and wait indefinitely until the US passes a Comprehensive Immigration Reform that deals with every minute aspect of the current immigration problems? Or should US citizens who are in same-sex binational relationships move to different countries with their partners and abandon everything (job,career,friends,family,etc) behind just because they choose to be with the person they love? Or better still, should gay and lesbian US citizens just, once and for all, avoid falling in love with foreigners?

We all know how well a CIR went the last time it was introduced in the Congress. If you are proposing any form of amnesty in the CIR to deal with the illegal immigrants who are already living and working in the US, chances are it will never pass. Both Republicans and moderate Democrats are not in favor of giving legal status to illegal immigrants because we all know that this will only prolong the problem and will only be another measure to avoid dealing with the issue once and for all. Remember when Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986 that gives legal status to 5 millions illegal immigrants - and looked at how well that worked out - we now have over 11 millions illegal immigrants (estimated as of 2008). I think President Obama is on the right track by proposing that the next CIR will provide legal status for these illegal immigrants but with strings attached. They will have to leave the country and get in line with the hundreds of thousands of people who have already applied for ‘green cards’ through legal means and they will also have to learn to speak English. These are some of the fair, in my opinion, requirements for granting amnesty that will be included in the CIR mentioned by President Obama during a town hall meeting in Costa Mesa, CA. As to the practicality of the proposition, I am doubtful that the illegal immigrants who are already in the US will ever leave even after the CIR is passed. So, what are the alternatives? Do you propose that the government should just grant them legal status without any requirement and in turn attract more people to come and stay illegally in the US with hopes that one day they too will be granted amnesty and eventually become citizens? This is such a complex issue to deal with and it would take years and efforts from both sides of the aisle to work out an ultimate solution in dealing with this ongoing problem.


With that being said, I am in full support of a truly comprehensive immigration reform in the US that can deal with all the problems that we are currently facing but until that happens, there are people making heartbreaking decisions everyday to choose between their beloved country, friends and family and stable career (especially difficult to obtain these days) or the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with and this is reality. UAFA might not be the perfect solution but it will at least help many American families stay together.

Or should US citizens who are in same-sex binational relationships move to different countries with their partners and abandon everything (job,career,friends,family,etc) behind just because they choose to be with the person they love?

FYI: One person in a binational couple is going to have to do that. Let's not laugh immediately at the suggestion that an American would live in another country that could never be the beacon of freedom and land of golden opportunity that is America.

Yasmin and colored queer expect us to accept that "most" bi-national same-sex couples are all-white because they say so, therefore, it's true. If anyone—me, in this case—dares to challenge that statement, we're engaging in "liberal dogma". What are they engaging in then, if not leftist dogma of "don't ever question us"?

Having a discussion requires a basis in fact, even when theory is being discussed. For the UAFA debate, one cannot use such bald statements as declaring that "most" bi-national couples are white in support of your arguments without having that assumption challenged. Part of your whole argument is based on the presumption that this is true. If it isn't, that deflates one of your arguments against UAFA—that it mostly benefits privileged white males. There's no empirical data that I can find on the numbers or make-up of bi-national same sex couples in the US, nor, for that matter, how many are male and how many are female.

The point here again is that such a bald statement can't be made without evidence. It may be true, it may not be, but we can't have a discussion based on unsupported, charged assertions.

I wasn't going to respond to Yasmin's silly charges against me, but: "in the context of a discourse on immigration where even the commenters asking for proof of racial make-up are themselves clearly opposed to immigration reform, it's simply yet another distraction." No one on this thread has expressed opposition to comprehensive immigration reform and—as that un-named person who demanded proof—I have said repeatedly that I do support comprehensive reform. So, Yasmin, are you calling me a liar? Because that's what it sounds like.

I'm exasperated, I admit. It seems that if anyone in the centre or near left dares to question your assumptions, dares to challenge your logic, we're raising red herrings, we're "de-contextualising", we're "evading the responsibility" of "defending" our position. Put another way, no matter what we say, we're always wrong and, apparently, stupid, too.

We can't possibly have a "more substantive dialogue" when those who disagree are held to a different standard.

Gayalltheway,

Thanks for reading and commenting.
I'm glad you're in favour of CIR, but I'm afraid your history of immigration reform is a bit one-sided. First of all, the explosion of numbers of undocumented is not due to one single reason (such as people overstaying/wanting to stay for a "better life" etc). There are a number of complex and interrelated reasons for that, but I'd like to point to two which illustrate the culpability of the U.S. government. For one, there's NAFTA, aided by a Democrat, which has devastated economies of countries of Mexico to such an extent that people are compelled to come here in order to find work. I have an example of one Mexican man who ran a textile shop that had been in his family for decades. Post-NAFTA, the shop went out of business and he was forced to seek work in the U.S. That's just one example.

Another reason has to do with the 10-year ban, also a delightful idea passed in Clinton's time. Here's what that means: say you're undocumented, and you need to return to your home country to visit an ailing relative. If you leave the U.S and then try to return, you can be barred from entry for a full ten years.

Now, imagine what that means for anyone who has significant ties both here and in their home countries - they're essentially caught in a Catch-22 and unable to either gain legal status or to return even for a brief visit. A lawyer friend of mine has said that the 10-year ban is a significant reason for the explosion in numbers of undocumented people. Without that, people could move back and forth without penalty while trying to reconcile/remedy their status, even leave permanently but also visit their families and communities of care. With it, they live in a Catch-22. I know someone who is undocumented even though everyone else in her family is a citizen. She was brought here as a 14-year-old and, due to several technical mishaps, lost her status. She has made it clear that she'd like to return to her country of origin - but she can't, given the ban and given that her family doesn't want to see her go and not be able to rejoin them for that long.

All of which is to say: statements like "I am doubtful that the illegal immigrants who are already in the US will ever leave even after the CIR is passed" are reductive in that they assume that all immigrants come for the same reasons, stay for the same reasons, and become undocumented for the same reasons. Such statements also remove the onus for reform from the shoulders of the U.S government, whose trade policies; unfair immigrant labor laws; and horribly arcane and complex system of immigration application process - and not the wilful criminality of the immigrant masses -- created this crisis in the first place.

As for solutions for binational couples, please see my comment above. But I'm interested in the fact that your description of the state of binationals is so much less charged than that of undocumented people, whom you assume to be here for all the wrong reasons. Binational couples are here for love (supposedly the right reason), but the rest, apparently, are just here because they're, well, willfully undocumented and are here to exploit the resources of the U.S. This is less of an accusation of bigotry and more of a request that you consider how you frame the issue of binationals (who, apparently, are not undocumented) as lovers, opposed to the undocumented people who are just, what, here to rip off honest U.S citizens?

My critique of UAFA aims to pick apart such assumptions about "good" and "bad" immigrants. Asking for my solution, you frame it in these terms: "Or should US citizens who are in same-sex binational relationships move to different countries with their partners and abandon everything (job,career,friends,family,etc) behind just because they choose to be with the person they love? Or better still, should gay and lesbian US citizens just, once and for all, avoid falling in love with foreigners?" Well, someone always has to choose between countries, when in a binational relationship, yes? Your point about not falling in love with foreigners is simply a non sequitur, so I'm not going to respond to that.

But does it ever occur to you that undocumented immigrants, here for many complex reasons - only two of which I've described above - might also have families they're torn from? That they might even be in relationships with U.S. citizens/permanent residents?

Having said all that, I'm interested in crafting a reasonable set of solutions to the issues of binational couples. But I want to be sure that we're all clear about the fact that they can't be separated off from all the rest of the immigrant/undocumented population in such stark terms. Without that kind of understanding, any reform affecting binationals will only continue to perpetuate the stigmatising and myopic views about immigration reform and its history that UAFA already engages in.

As someone who has worked on legislation for years on the Hill (and who has taught Legislative Process in law schools for several years) I can say that Yasmin understands extremely little of the legislative process. Progress is almost always incremental, and Yasmin always shoots down a step forward, no matter the issue, in all her columns. Furthermore, I can tell you that Gay groups should focus mostly (if not entirely) on their own agenda, because you do not see many other groups promoting our issues. Why are you upset that the legislation is only fixing a gay problem? There are myriad lobbying groups working on behalf of the other people, and maybe Yasmin should stop masquerading as an activist for our causes, when apparently from her writings, she is more comfortable pushing the agendas of the other, non-gay (and often RIGHT WING) organizations. White bigots in the South killed many attempts over the years for Civil Rights legislation, until it was finally passed in 1967. Before that, bigots could act sanctimoniously and say that the proposal was "piecemeal" , "only attacked a small part of the problem ", and "left others out". In the meantime, there was no progress, and these racial bigots of the '40's, '50's , and '60's stalled progress, affecting millions of human beings. No one is saying to abandon the problems that are not fixed in any of the legislative proposals. They are left for the next year. In the meantime, Gays should stop shooting themselves in the foot by listening to the uninformed likes of Yasmin.

I'll put aside the "Yasmin always does x.." rant, which is a classic tactic by people incapable of supporting anything with logic.

Of course, legislative progress is always incremental - that should not stop activists from protesting and constantly working to forward their vision of a better and more just world. And it has not. Ahem, I'd like to remind you of a little thing called Lawrence v. Texas - it wasn't eventually struck down because a lot of people sat on their hands and waited for "next year," but because they worked and agitated for years, behind the scenes AND in public.

Activists are not bound only by the legislative - especially given that the "law," as any critically self-reflexive law professor will tell you, is constantly subject to change and mediation. It does not, contrary to some opinions, get passed down to us by toga-clad gods on high.

As for "Why are you upset that the legislation is only fixing a gay problem?":
First of all, this is not a "gay problem," UAFA is presented as an immigration bill so it affects a wide range of people. Many of the people in binational relationships, almost 50%, I'll wager, are actually immigrants - that simple fact seems to escape the notice of UAFA supporters. Secondly, and this may come as a surprise, not every gay person is defined exclusively by his/her gay identity. A lot of gays are immigrants as well. A lot of people in immigration reform are also gay/lesbian/queer.

I'm asking people to look at UAFA in more inclusive and contextualised terms than as just something that affects couples. I'm also asking readers to consider the arbitrary divisions we keep drawing between "gay" and "immigrant." In my work with immigration rights activists, I consistently ask people to consider that immigrants are also queer/gay/lesbian. Here, in a queer space, I'm asking people to consider that gays are also immigrants.

Yasmin,
It seems that you want an "all or nothing" approach. UAFA only accomplishes one thing. Allowing those of us in committed gay relationships the ability to sponsor our partners for legal residence in the U.S. I am legally married in Canada to a Canadian citizen and he can sponsor me for immigration to Canada. I would much prefer that I would have the same ability to sponsor him to live in the U.S. This doesn't mitigate your desire for broader immigration policies. That is a separate issue and in the meantime, perhaps I will be allowed to sponsor my husband to immigrate to the U.S. so that we can live together comfortably here. I really prefer living in Florida rather than cold Canada ... I know that I am fortunate that I am not poor, another minority (besides being gay) or ill. That should not preclude me from living with my spouse in the U.S.

Larry,

Of course, the fact that you are fortunate in many ways should not preclude you from living with your spouse in the U.S. And that's why I wrote:
"The fact that...doesn't mean that we shouldn't want some kind of reasonable solution to the issue of binational relationships. But the problem is that UAFA is currently being presented as separate from other immigration concerns and as something that has no relationship to the larger immigration crisis (that will no doubt change if it doesn't succeed as a stand-alone bill)."

As someone who looks critically at UAFA as a "gay immigration" bill - I'm pointing out that it replicates specific inequalities, that it will not help all binational couples, and that it has at best an extremely uneasy relationship to CIR. It's my job as an activist and writer to consider these complications and to point them out, and to attempt to rectify them, knowing full well that, yes, nothing will be perfect. You have to admit that very, very few (only Eithne Luibheid comes to mind) have even scrutinised this bill closely. I think it's worth debating a bill before we assume it's something that should automatically be passed.

And I think it's worth asking, as I have, why we separate "gays" from "immigrants" so easily. The "all or nothing" approach comes from those who see this as *only* a gay issue. But UAFA-ers have made it clear that if the bill does not get passed as a stand-alone bill, they will push it as part of CIR (conveniently, then, insisting that *immigration* reform activists *should* consider what they will hitherto have described as a "gay" bill), and the tensions over that could threaten CIR.

Yasmin,
While many will see this as a "gay bill." I see it as and "equality bill." It does in no way solve the greater immigration problem, but it does offer some equality to those of us who are stuck in this situation. Why any gay person would be opposed to this is beyond my comprehension.

Let's get some equality into immigration policy and also work on the greater problem. In my opinion if it is left to the greater immigration problem we may very well get lost in the shuffle. I think the only way we will achieve equality is to attack our portion of immigration now.

Yes, I have a very selfish motive. I believe that were you in the same circumstances, you might very well have a different opinion.

Larry,

Calling it a bill about "equality" (a word that's drastically overused in the gay community to signify nothing more than rank inequality these days) doesn't make it part of CIR. As for why any "gay person" would be opposed to it - perhaps this will come as a shock to you, but gay people are more than their sexual orientation and can actually identify with causes outside their narrow realms of identity. I'm going to take a wild guess here that you are, in Canada as an American, actually an immigrant, yes? If a bill forbidding, oh, say, U.S citizens from your hometown from entering Canada came into place (hypothetically speaking), you'd be protesting as an immigrant - not as a gay man. Or are you so comfortable in your position as a (self-described) gay man who
"know[s] that [he is] fortunate that [he is] not poor, another minority (besides being gay) or ill" make you forget that you're also an immigrant?

I'm constantly dumbfounded by the ways in which some U.S gay men refuse to see themselves as anything more than just gay men, especially when they occupy positions of privilege.

As for the "if you were in the same circumstances" argument," that's a shoddy and slippery tactic, and I'm not going to waste time trading oppressions/situations. Instead, I'll propose something dramatic here: let's think about issues even when they don't directly affect just our personal experiences.

I totally resent your insuation when you say "Instead, I'll propose something dramatic here: let's think about issues even when they don't directly affect just our personal experiences."

I am discussing one issue with you. I needn't go into the fact that I was at Stonewall the night before the riots and proceeded to march on and on and on after that. I needn't go into the fact that I did voter registration in minority neighborhoods in the 60's and 70's. I needn't go into the fact that I volunteered in soup kitchens and helped with housing needs for the homeless. I won't go into the fact that I participated in a hot line which some evenings was routed directly to my home for people affected by HIV. A persons sexual orientation had nothing to do with these issues.

I have also spoken up for "equality" for gays which you seem to have a problem with. From reading what you are saying, if we can't have total equality in every circumstance, for everyone we should not have any laws that only affect some in a positive direction. Again, you are taking the "all or nothing" approach.

I lived through having absolutely NO rights as a homosexual to where we are today. I'm not finished, however. I hope I will see the day that gays have all of the rights of straight people. I also pray that we will do away with world hunger and quite frankly wish for a world without borders.

As I have had to accept with the gay movement, we are getting there by fighting one step at a time. For those much younger than I, I hope they see the day when international borders are torn down and everyone has the freedom and the right to an honest living with healthcare, clean air, clean water & food for all. I know I won't see it.

I do hope that day will come.

I'm a queer person who has no interest in civil marriage; I don't think the state has a role in legitimizing -- or, more importantly, deligitimizing the shape of particular families.

I know a number of radical straight bi-national couples who have had a civil ceremony in order to facilitate immigration who feel coerced into civil marriage. I know - this is hardly a difficulty compared to the barriers folks face when they cannot access these protections.

The irony of immigration law is that a marriage certificate is not taken as proof, prima facie, of a relationship. One still has to show proof of a romantic (and/or conjugal), exclusive relation. I object to this being the standard for immigration -- but that aside, the state could continue to use this as a basis without requiring civil marriage and its equivalent in UAFA.

Same-sex partner immigration could be a progressive step forward to de-emphasize civil marriage. It could be framed around the right to found a family (as found in intl law), however one defines a family, and could set simple numeric limits on the number of people any person can sponsor.

I believe many in the LGBT movement are going in the wrong, heteronormative direction. If we don't know that families come in all shapes and sizes, then who does?

Gloria,

Yes to all your excellent points, which take us in a new direction, but especially the great bit at the end:

"It could be framed around the right to found a family (as found in intl law), however one defines a family, and could set simple numeric limits on the number of people any person can sponsor.

I believe many in the LGBT movement are going in the wrong, heteronormative direction. If we don't know that families come in all shapes and sizes, then who does?"

As you put it so well, same-sex partner immigration *could* lead to something more radical, but UAFA takes us backwards.

colored queer | June 3, 2009 4:30 PM

The tension between UAFA supporters and comprehensive immigration reform has started to boil and Yasmin, you are correct that UAFA threatens comprehensive immigration reform which would help so many single, poor LGBT and HIV+ immigrants of color. (see excerpts from NYT article below) Why white gay orgs like Immigration Equality are opposing something like comp immig reform which will benefit people of color communities? Why don't these gay orgs focus on marriage recognition at federal level for immigration rights which is what they are really going for but then why sacrifice immigration rights for people of color? (see comments of Rachel Tiven of Immigration Equality below explaining the momentum for UAFA with recent marriage victories thereby acknowledging UAFA as a backdoor to marriage).

Given that comprehensive immigration reform would help millions of illegals (majority of latinos and others of color) the anti-immigrant stance of white gays would not help the gay community. First white gays blamed blacks/latinos for prop 8 and now this racist analysis of good immigrants (who fuck US citizens and deserve immigration) vs bad immigrants (single and poor LGBT people of color not deserving of immigration reform) would not go well with hispanic and other immigrant communities.


Below is an excerpt from NYT article:

"""
The political fault lines opened by Senator Leahy’s same-sex bill quickly became apparent this week. In a letter sent Tuesday, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, the chairman of the Catholic bishops’ Committee on Migration, wrote that the Uniting American Families Act would “erode the institution of marriage and family,” by taking a position “that is contrary to the very nature of marriage which pre-dates the Church and the State.”

J. Kevin Appleby, the immigration policy director for the bishops’ conference, said, “The last thing the national immigration debate needs is another politically divisive issue added to the mix.”

Supporters said the bill would assist about 36,000 same-sex couples nationwide. Rachel B. Tiven, the executive director of Immigration Equality, a group that advocates for gay rights legislation, said the bill had improved chances this year because of recent same-sex marriage victories in Iowa, Maine and Vermont.""""


And lets face the reality: while holding hearings is a grand gesture and may help with fundraising etc it is not likely that UAFA would become law until DOMA is overturned and there is federal recongition of gay marriage and grant of all federal rights to gay couples. That would happen in time but why in the meantime white gay orgs are shoving this down the throats of communities of color and screwing up comprehensive immigration fight which would also help LGBT immigrants (though of color as opposed to UAFA beneficiaries who are mostly whites) as well.

Brad Bailey | June 3, 2009 10:56 PM

To have ANY pro-gay legislation enacted is nothing short of a miracle. We are a hated minority representing only five percent of any given population. For that reason, I'm all for UAFA, gay marriage, legal gay adoption, hate crimes legislation, the repeal of DOMA and DODT----you name it, and I'm for it. If that's narrow-minded and myopic, then so be it.

I've lived my entire life as a second-class citizen, and I'm grateful for any gay-friendly legislation that becomes law. You can quibble about how exclusionary it is or how conservative it is until the cows come home. I think I can speak for the vast majority of homosexuals in this country who are incredibly grateful for ANY pro-gay legislation that comes down the pike.

And by the way, this is a gay website, not necessarily a gay liberal website. I happen to agree with much of conservative philosophy. And I can state with certainty that most if not all of your references to what does and does not constitute conservative thought are wrong.

"...this is a gay website, not necessarily a gay liberal website." What's your point there? That my politics don't belong here but yours do? I don't consider myself a liberal, thanks. I'd like to think I'm at least a half-inch to the left of liberalism.

I'm glad you think you can speak "for the vast majority of homosexuals in this country who are incredibly grateful" etc. - although, I'm not sure how you discern their gratitude. Apparently, you also speak for all conservatives. Rush Limbaugh must be proud.

But then, according to some others here, I'm just another conservative. So, Brad, you really should be nicer to me.

"I'd like to think I'm at least a half-inch to the left of liberalism."

You take a half-inch? I'll give you a mile… ;-)

Ha, yes, I'll take it. I didn't want to claim it on my own, since, I figured, somebody would be sure to dispute that and insist that I'm a right-wing bigot instead :-)

Ah, names...

The “winds of change” in American society may lead to opening the doors for fully vesting gay and lesbian couples with the same rights as heterosexual couples.
I have never been able to reconcile the plain meaning of the US Constitution’s Equal Protection clause and the prohibition against same sex marriage. As an American Immigration Lawyer in Thailand , I get numerous requests to process fiancé visas for same-sex couples. We have to inform these people that the USCIS does not issue visas in these cases. The obvious follow-up question is: “if same sex marriage is legal in the state we are going to, why should we not be entitled to a visa”.
A basic tenant of our democracy is that the federal government should not be interfering with the state’s rights. The federal prohibition on fiancé(e) visas for same sex marriages seems to be an abrogation of state’s rights and the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution.

Paige Listerud | June 4, 2009 5:33 PM

Please excuse my ignorance over all immigration issues. I have read this thread with fascination and only add my little two cents for observation.

It seems to me that those who would most enduringly agitate for CIR are those people who are already comprehensively impacted by immigration law as it now stands--the working poor, day-laborers, mostly people of color immigrants and their families. Of course, LGBTQ people will be among their number, but how likely will their voice will be heard within immigrant communities, particularly if those communities are socially conservative? Particularly if, through language differences and economic disparity, they are overly-dependent on their immigrant community in order to survive?

Secondly, if an organization narrowly focusses on same-sex couples having equal immigration rights to opposite-sex couples, chances are their members have only become aware of immigration inequities via a relationship with an LGBTQ immigrant. That relationship has become a "teaching moment" on immigration, and unless their LGBTQ immigrant partner is working poor or a person of color, their view of what needs to be changed re: immigration will most likely stay within narrow limits.

I think you can see where I am going--back to the old issues of racism and classism within the LGBTQ community. I shift to this focus only because, in Chicago, I still hear some white gay men complaining about how they will not go to certain gay bars because they are "too ethnic"--that is to say, too full of Latino men. These and many other gay bars still ask for 3 pieces of ID from African American queer men to get in. I hope that my observations will not be considered reductive, since I thoroughly believe that it is who we socialize with daily that makes us more open to and more committed to issues we would not consider before.

colored queer | June 4, 2009 10:16 PM

Paige,

I totally agree. And thanks for that honest and genuine perspective. It is always good to see that at least some folks are open to acknowledging race/class differences. Immigration issues pose special challenges for gay institutions where racism has become so deeply ingrained in their analysis that they just cannot relate to immigrants/communities of color except using them as poster children to futher their own agenda and even those in relationships with immigrants fail to see beyond the immediate issue at hand.

Some gay groups even consciously adopted those racist attitudes as a matter of strategy by putting "white" faces on the issues but those strategies are failing with the changing demographics. For example, the violence against LGBT people (esp. murder of blks) of color was totally ignored while these groups heavily publicized few cases involving white gays. It would take a lot of work to address racism in gay institutions let alone eliminate it. But, we can all start a dialogue and perhaps "hope" that someday these white gay groups would come around and perhaps in a decade or so these gay groups would not be able to even fake it without becoming diverse. I mean, really, just look at their gatherings -- sea of white faces just like republican conventions with few of those "precious people of color" thrown in the mix.

Paige,

Thanks for commenting.

Far from being reductive, your post reveals some of the unspoken dynamics in this conversation that's unfortunately painted as "gays vs. immigrants." And it helps to push this conversation forward.

You're right to ask about how immigrant queers might fare within what can be socially conservative immigrant groups (although, we could argue, perhaps no more and no less than many other groups not coded as such). I know from my experience that while some are indeed resistant to queer issues, just as many are open to discussing them. Unfortunately, that doesn't make for very sexy (read: profitable) newspaper copy, so it's not discussed as much.

The issue of income dependency is absolutely relevant; the reality I've witnessed is that the immigrant community is not homogeneous and also not homogeneously anti-immigrant (no pun intended). I'm doing a follow-up piece on these issues and just interviewed a Latina queer immigrant rights organizer with whom I work quite frequently; I'll be sharing her perspectives and mine so I'll look around for you in and around that conversation.

You're so right about those in binational relastionships of whom we could say that "chances are their members have only become aware of immigration inequities via a relationship with an LGBTQ immigrant." And, I think, I hope, that some (if not several) then continue to think about the complexities of immigration issues in a more expansive way. Sadly, over the past month, I've come to the conclusion that, for most, their interests remain narrowly focused.

And I wholeheartedly agree with your connection to the larger issues of racism within the gay community - my friend Sam Finkelstein and I (as members of Gender JUST) just presented on white privilege in Chicago, and used exactly that example of African-Americans being unfairly carded in bars!

Lastly, if you're in Chicago, as I am - why aren't we talking more in real life?!??!? :-)

Paige Listerud | June 5, 2009 1:39 AM

We really should. Are you still writing for one of the LGBTQ press in Chicago? I could get you my info through them.

Sheez Yasmin this very thread was 'kicked off' Queercents and it was closed to further comments due to the acrimony you had so embarrassingly caused. I see nothing different in this post and thread; and you have simply moved your imperfect thesis to another forum. I noticed and I thank you for at least ridding the piece of the brutal ridicule you had previously directed to my client Shirley Tan.
Shirley and many others like her, merely want to remain at home with their families. I personally was faced with a Sophie's choice. Do I leave the USA to go overseas with my beloved partner and our four year old or do I stay in the USA with my twelve year old? - due to my shared custody arrangement with my ex. If I could have petitioned for my partner like straight couple could, my family would not have suffered the trauma of our two years in abject fear. Luckily we achieved our green card, at great toll. But others are not so lucky.
My client a well known medical doctor committed suicide after his partner was held in detention for almost a year upon their return from honeymoon. He was not so lucky and who knows maybe he faced negativity when in his 'no hope' spiral and depression columns such as your would certainly serve NO GOOD.
And you still refuse to acknowledge that this is a matter of equality. AT the UAFA hearing on June 3rd Julian Bond from the NAACP said that LGBT equality is a civil rights issue. hopefully you have had the decency to listen to the testimony especially that of Shirley Tan.
The simple truth - back doors - front doors- who cares? All that we want is for our families to have the same choices as straight families - plain and simple.
For you to continue to slander this very ideal is simply incomprehensible to those of us who have suffered such pain. You have no right to preach your 'holier than thou' nonsense to those who actually are suffering as we speak. AND in asking for UAFA - whether feasible or not, we do not derogate in any way shape or form from CIR and our belief that indeed this immigration system is in dire need of a huge overhaul.
www.oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com

Melanie,

As this post and Queercents editors have made clear, it was not "kicked off" Queercents. I have no idea what you mean by "brutal ridicule," and please stop implying that I have in any way responded to you by changing things to reflect your views.

You keep referring to Tan as your client - in what capacity? I don't believe you're her lawyer, correct? If you are, you're not doing her a favour by showing up on blogs and responding the way you do (readers who're interested in Melanie Nathan's previous comments should go to the original post on queercents).

Or, are you her P.R person? You keep following me around and talking about Tan as your "client" - please let us all know in what capacity you're acting on her behalf. Since I plan on following up on this story, it would be interesting to know more of these details. In the meantime, stop insinuating that you're a lawyer, if you're not, as you did previously.

As for the rest, I've responded in my blogs on UAFA and plan on writing more in the coming weeks. Do come back here and to queercents for more.

I'm a natural born US citizen forced to live in the UK because of immigration law. You mention that it's unfair to ignore the partner's own homeland as well, but they don't recognize us for immigration either.

I left my job, my aging family and everything else behind. Instead, I'm forced to work as a telemarketer despite having a degree. No one here seems to recognize degrees, and often times I'm turned down for being over qualified.

I haven't cared about the term marriage. I think if religious bigots want to keep the word then let them. I just want the right to bring my partner to the US. The same goes for those other families that want to stay together. It's never been about marriage for many of us, just the right to stay on the same land.

I can't stand that these religious nimrods can't see anything else other than "marriage". They need to get out of other people's lives and allow people to just LIVE together. It's not like our living in the US hurts anyone. I've had it up to here with people saying they'd rather "export gay people than import".

Of course gay people aren't the only ones needing immigration help, but if CIR is put through gay binational couples SHOULD be included as well. If it passes and solves everyone elses problems and leaves gay couples stranded, how is that fair? It may help other nationalities but my partner is white. How much longer am I going to have to wait until I can go home?