Integrity Legal

30th December 2010

In an interesting recent turn of events LGBT Equal Rights advocates have seen many political victories in recent weeks. This blogger came across and interesting article on the website Wikinews.org, to quote directly from Wikinews:

Friday, December 24, 2010

In an interview on the United States television show Good Morning America today, U.S. vice president Joe Biden said that a positive consensus on same-sex marriage is “inevitable” as the country “evolves.”

“[There is] inevitability for a national consensus on gay marriage. I think the country’s evolving. And I think you’re going to see, you know, the next effort is probably going to be to deal with so-called DOMA,” said Biden.

For those who are unfamiliar with the issues surrounding the struggle for LGBT Equal Rights the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) currently bars the United States Federal government from recognizing same sex marriage (or any other sort of same sex civil union). The Federal government, pursuant to the provisions of DOMA, is not even permitted to recognize those same sex marriages which are legalized and solemnized pursuant to an American State’s law. Currently, 5 US States allow some form of same sex marriage or civil union. For Immigration purposes, DOMA is a significant piece of legislation as it forces the American Federal government to restrict family immigration benefits to different sex couples. The product of these circumstances as they sit now is a situation in which many bi-national couples are separated from each other by borders, and sometimes oceans. Wikinews.org went on:

Biden’s remarks come just days after U.S. president Barack Obama signed into law, the repeal of Don’t ask, don’t tell (DADT). The repeal, which was signed by Obama on Thursday, will now allow gay and lesbian service members to serve openly in the country’s military, without fear that they will be discharged form service. A report by The Pentagon earlier this month concluded most U.S. service personnel do not believe reform of the rules on gays and lesbians serving in the military would affect morale, unit cohesion or military effectiveness. The report found only 30% believed that changing the law would have a negative effect. DADT, in effect for 17 years, was repealed by the United States Senate on Saturday. The military will cease enforcement of the policy in 60 days time, after the Pentagon has certified to Congress that it, and the military are ready to implement the new law.[sic]

The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was a significant step forward for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) individuals, but full equality under the law has yet to materialize especially as DOMA remains in place thereby precluding family immigration benefits for LGBT couples. Some lawmakers have attempted to draft legislation to deal directly with the issue of discrimination of bi-national same sex couples for immigration purposes. In recent years, legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) has been introduced to allow “permanent partners” of American Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents to obtain immigration benefits similar to those granted to different-sex spouses of US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. This blogger recently came upon an interesting webpage pertaining to this issue on the website logcabin.org, the official website of the Log Cabin Republicans, to quote directly from said webpage:

The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), pending in Congress, would end the discrimination against gays and lesbians in immigration laws by allowing U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration benefits. The version of the bill introduced in the House last February (H.R.1024) currently has 116 cosponsors, while the Senate version (S. 424) has 22 cosponsors. In addition, the Reuniting Families Act (H.R.2709) also includes UAFA as a provision of the larger immigration bill.

While some groups hostile to immigration fear that the UAFA would open the floodgates to massive immigration, such fears are unfounded. It would grant residency only to those foreign nationals involved in a financially interdependent permanent partnership with a U.S. citizen. Many of these individuals have already been living in the U.S. for years on special work or student visas and have been contributing to American society. In any event, the administrative checks that ensure that heterosexual couples applying for residency are not involved in a “sham” relationship will do the same for gay and lesbian couples. The measure is simply not a conduit for unfettered immigration.

There would seem to have been some speculation that passage of an UAFA-like piece of legislation would result in an explosion of fraudulent visa applications submitted by those wishing to take advantage of what appears, at first glance, to be a new avenue for seeking immigration benefits through use of a “sham” relationship. In this authors opinion, it is highly unlikely that passage of UAFA-like legislation would result in a significant increase in immigration fraud as the United States government currently has a very sophisticated system in place which is designed to root out immigration fraud at multiple levels of the immigration system and at multiple phases of the overall United States immigration process.

Hopefully, as Vice President Biden noted above, a “positive consensus” on this issue can be reached with the end result being the unification of bi-national families in America.


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