On Wednesday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold the first-ever Congressional hearing on obstacles faced by lesbian and gay couples under U.S. immigration law. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the committee, has scheduled a 10 a.m. hearing on the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). The bill, sponsored by Leahy in the Senate and Congressman Jerold Nadler (D-NY) in the House, would modify immigration policy to end discrimination against lesbian and gay Americans who want to sponsor their permanent partners for residency in the United States. Such couples are often separated, or torn apart, because current U.S. law does not allow for the same sponsorship rights for lesbian and gay citizens as for heterosexuals.
Chuck Schumer also played a critical role. As readers know, my own marriage is threatened by this discrimination. If Aaron were a woman, the HIV ban would not apply to me - since it's waived when someone is married to an American citizen. Because he's a man, I have no standing to stay in the US indefinitely and, if the HIV ban remains in place, we will have to decide to separate or move both of us to Europe in the near future. I am not alone. Two other prominent bloggers, Glenn Greenwald and Chris Crain, are also forced to live outside this country because their loved ones cannot be allowed in.
The premise of the marriage waiver - and of all immigration law in the US - is that tearing families or married couples apart should be avoided at all costs. But bi-national gay married couples now have to face exactly that choice between spouse and country that the US has always avoided.
Why? Because our marriages are null and void for the federal government under DOMA. Because our very being is regarded as sub-human.
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