Steve Ralls

Ask, Tell... But Don't Love?

Filed By Steve Ralls | December 23, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: binational families, Don't Ask Don't Tell, immigration, Immigration Equality, military, servicemembers, Uniting American Families Act

At long last, our country's military will soon afford its dedicated, patriotic troops some of the liberties they have long fought for abroad. The end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is surely one of the biggest steps our country has taken, since the de-segregation of our forces, to honor the men and women who selflessly sacrifice for our nation.

rainbow-america.jpgIt will also, as I mentioned in my very first post for Bilerico, be a watershed moment for the entire LGBT community. All over the globe, countries which have made advances on LGBT civil rights began that progress by first welcoming lesbian and gay service members into their armed forces. Countries which now offer federal relationship recognition did so after their military bans were lifted. The consequences of ending our own prohibition on open service can only begin to be imagined.

The first, and immediate, impact, however, will be on our men and women in uniform. These brave men and women will no longer be forced into the shadows, or made to lie or hide. The days of secret good-bye ceremonies before deployments will soon be over, and the families of lesbian and gay troops will, at long last, also receive the accolades and recognition they deserve.

Unless, however, those families happen to include one partner from abroad.

It has long been true that service members meet, fall in love and even marry while serving abroad. In nearly every conflict - from Vietnam to Iraq - some American troops have fallen in love, and started families, with husbands and wives they met while deployed around the world. The United States has rightly honored those relationships by allowing service members who marry foreign national partners to sponsor their new husband or wife for residency in the U.S.

That, however, will not be possible for lesbian and gay troops who find themselves in the same situation.

Under current U.S. immigration laws, even lesbian and gay service personnel who can now serve openly, and proudly, cannot bring their loved ones from abroad back home. Our country still does not recognize those families under federal law.

At Immigration Equality, we often hear from Americans who have courageously served in our armed forces, but are unable to keep their families together in the country they have fought for, and defended. Instead, they - like more than 36,000 families like them - face separation because of our discriminatory immigration laws.

If we truly want to fully honor our troops, we must also honor their families. That includes critical benefits for the partners and children of lesbian and gay troops . . . and the ability for those troops to keep their families together, even when they include a partner from abroad.

That is why, with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" behind us, we must now pass the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), too.

UAFA - which enjoys more Congressional co-sponsors than any other immigration bill in Congress - would make a simple, but profound fix, to our broken immigration system. Through a small change to immigration policy, it would allow lesbian and gay Americans, including troops with loving partners from other countries, to build their homes, lives and families here in the country they love.

Now that we've recognized the extraordinary sacrifice of lesbian, gay and bisexual troops, it is time we stop asking that they sacrifice their families because of out-dated immigration laws, too.

In the coming weeks and months, LGBT advocates, allies and organizations will begin their push for equality anew. There is much that still needs to be done, including relationship recognition, employment protections and more. We must not forget, however, that too many Americans still suffer from the basest, and most heinous discrimination of all: The inability to share their home, and build a life, with the person they choose in the country they love.

We owe it to every LGBT American who faces this unconscionable reality - including those who serve our country in uniform - to right this wrong, too.

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This is indeed a watershed moment, but it isn't one for the trans community. DADT didn't affect us, and the repeal doesn't allow us to serve openly. You keep typing "LGBT," but their is no joy in Transville. The wonderful trans people have struck out. I am looking forward to some of your future articles that actually include us. Welcome to Bilerico.


As you know from my many years at SLDN, I fully support repealing the medical regulations which impact so many transgender patriots, too. I also fully recognize that repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" did not end those regulations. That's why you'll note that I use "lesbian and gay" and "lesbian, gay and bisexual" when referring to the service members who will be directly impacted by repeal.

I do,however, use "LGBT" when referring to the broader impact of repeal, beyond just the armed forces. I do, indeed, believe repeal will be a watershed moment for transgender people as well. Though this victory was not trans-inclusive, it will open the door to many future legislative wins which are. That doesn't mean it's right to exclude transgender troops from the armed forces - because it is not - but I was simply referring to the new advances we'll all make, transgender people included, because of this important win, too.

- Steve .

You and I have had many discussions in the past and I know where your heart is at. I know we can count on your council in future days. I just had mixed feelings about the signing. I'm sure you understand.

Just a reminder - Steve needs no welcome, he's been with us for over three years.

Keep em comin', Steve!

And right on schedule, yet another push to make sure that more civil benefits exclusively for the gay and lesbian community come before even the most basic progress on trans rights.

The symbol SO+GI stands for the call for "compete freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity". Let this be our battle cry as we demand that all human institutions respect, serve, and engage our vision.

We all want and demand SOGI from all. We have no tolerance for opposition in any form by any person or institution.

At this holiday season, when many celebrate the birth of the giver of truth and love, let us all remember that this was also the birth of the Original Party Animal (OPA), the giver hirself. It is altogether proper and just that this celebration absorbs the great classical tradition of bacchanalia.

The OPA is remembered for hanging with publicans and prostitutes and ignoring the self-privileged. Ze had surely found that the community of the prostitutes and publicans was a lot more fun than the other choices, as it continues to be even today.

UAFA would not be necessary if we got all federal marriage rights under a federal civil unions bill or a marriage equality bill. That said, I support continued lobbying and education around UAFA.

But I think it would be even better to get a bill that gave full marriage rights to all LGBT couples, which would include the right to sponsor your foreign born spouse - a right that straight married couples enjoy.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | December 26, 2010 1:04 PM

Marc, because the rules around marriage are left to the states, a federal marriage bill is very unlikely to even be introduced. What Congress can do is repeal DOMA and grant federal recognition of marriages between gay and lesbian couples.

Freedom to Marry has a Roadmap to Victory of how we will marriage nationwide.

Win marriage in more states
Grow the current slim majority supporting marriage
End federal marriage discrimination

You can find out more here: