Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘LGBT Immigration rights’

5th April 2011

In a recent episode of Bill Maher’s popular television program Mr. Maher noted the fact that the debate on same sex marriage is being stubbornly maintained despite the continued damage it does to honest American Citizens and their families. He also noted the somewhat hypocritical stature of the current position held by the administration and the Congress regarding the issue of same sex marriage. After watching this program this blogger felt as though Maher had failed to take into consideration the endeavors of some steadfast legislators on behalf of the LGBT community and those same sex bi-national couples who continue to hope for legal change either in the form of judicial or legislative action.

A fascinating article on this issue was posted on an interesting website known as the Business Insider.  To quote directly from the Business Insider website BusinessInsider.com:

In his New Rules segment last night, Bill Maher took Obama and the Democratic party to task for not being able to pass gay marriage in America, even though more than a majority of people support it for the first time.

The administration of this web log highly encourages readers to click on the hyperlinks above to read the Business Insider’s take on these issues as the piece written by the author Steven Loeb is quite enlightening and insightful.The issue of same sex marriage is increasingly in the news as developments on the issue seem to be occurring quite quickly at the time of this writing. One of the reasons for this may stem from a sincere hope that the notion of Equal Protection under the Federal law will be extended to all American Citizens regardless of their sexual orientation and/or preference. Concurrently, there are those who also hope that Federal authorities recognize the Several States’ Right to regulate the marriage of those within their jurisdiction. Furthermore, there are others who hope that some of these issues could be resolved by the United States Supreme Court as there are likely legal implications pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. Putting these issues aside, Mr. Maher went on to note, humorously if somewhat crudely, quoting further from the Business Insider:

…that only 53% of people support it, which means that “47% of Americans are assholes.”

“But still, this is remarkable progress considering that it wasn’t that long ago that just saying the words gay marriage made most Americans throw up in their Cornflakes. So, tonight, I’d like to congratulate the leadership of the Democratic party who really stood up for what was right. I’d like to, but I can’t. Because other than Gavin Newsom, Dennis Kucinich and that Governor of New Jersey… no Democrat would touch this issue with a ten inch pole.”

Although this blogger has often noted the exploits of Representative Dennis Kucinich this monologue by Maher should be noted first for the fact that for all of the hyperbole and some might say profanity: the man is right. Same sex marriage is apparently becoming increasingly popular to a broader sector of the population, even though the cause has seen relatively little support at times from so-called “main stream” sections of either political party. Meanwhile, there are strong legal arguments which can be made against the Federal government’s enforcement of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) as it applies in sovereign US States which recognize, legalize, and/or solemnize same sex marriages. That stated, the Constitutionality of DOMA is questionable in terms understandable by broad sectors of the population as DOMA’s continued withholding of Federal recognition of unions  solemnized and legalized by 6 States and the District of Columbia infringes upon sovereign rights long reserved to the States, most notable among these rights is the right to solemnize and/or legalize marriages within the State’s jurisdiction (as well as annulment and/or divorce) as noted in a recent Massachusetts Federal Court decision.

Putting all of this aside, why no mention of Representative Jerrold Nadler? Why no mention of the other legislators who have championed this cause such as Representative Zoe Lofgren or Senator Kirsten Gillibrand? In the case of Representative Nadler, whom this blogger has followed with keen interest as he appears, at least to this blogger, to be the Federal legislator most active on this issue: here is a Democrat from New York who has continued to be an advocate for same sex bi-national couples as well as the entire LGBT community by actively supporting legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act, the Uniting American Families Act, and; perhaps, Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation which would include relevant language allowing same sex bi-national couples to receive United States immigration benefits to the same degree as their different-sex counterparts. This blogger is not disagreeing with Mr. Maher’s opinion on the issue of some Democrats apparently refusing to support legislation which would modify or repeal DOMA, but in an attempt to see that some credit is given where due it has been repeatedly noted on this blog that Representative Nadler has remained a champion of legislation which would reform what many feel is a flagrant violation of the civil rights of many Americans as well as the States’ right to make policies regarding the legalization and solemnization of marriages.

It should be noted that this blogger is in no way affiliated with Representative Nadler having never personally dealt with his office nor his staff and this mention is in no way an endorsement of anything other than his position on respecting the civil liberties of all Americans to marry whomever they choose and the State institution of marriage.

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11th October 2010

The issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) is frequently discussed on this blog as it could be one of the most significant issues of the forthcoming legislative sessions as so many individuals could be impacted by changes to the laws upon which the American Immigration system is based. With that in mind, this author discovered an interesting question and answer session between members of the American press and President Barack Obama. The following is a direct quotation from the transcript of this Q & A session as posted upon the American Immigration Lawyers Association website. To quote the transcript and the President directly:

I have consistently, even before I was a presidential candidate, but when I was a U.S. senator and when I was running for U.S. senator, said that we have to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform.

Bill Richardson and I have had a lot of conversations about this. This is a nation of immigrants. It was built on immigrants — immigrants from every corner of the globe who brought their talent and their drive and their energy to these shores because this was the land of opportunity. Now, we’re also a nation of laws so we’ve got to make sure that our immigration system is orderly and fair. And so I think Americans have a legitimate concern if the way we’ve set up our immigration system and the way we are securing our borders is such where people just kind of come and go as they please, well, that means that folks who are waiting, whether it’s in Mexico City or in Nairobi, Kenya, or in Warsaw, Poland — if they’re waiting there filling out their forms and doing everything legally and properly and it takes them five years or six years or 10 years before they’re finally here and made legal, well, it’s not fair to them if folks can just come and ignore those laws.

So what we — I think is so important to do is for us to both be a nation of laws and affirm our immigrant traditions. And I think we can do that. So what I’ve said is, look, yes, let’s secure our borders; yes, let’s make sure that the legal immigration system is more fair and efficient than it is right now because if the waiting times were lessened then a lot of people would be more prone to go through a legal route than through an illegal route; let’s make sure that we’re cracking down on employers who are taking advantage of undocumented workers to not pay them overtime or not pay them minimum wage or not give them bathroom breaks; let’s make sure that we’re cracking down on employers to treat all workers fairly. And let’s provide a pathway to citizenship for those who are already here, understanding that they broke the law, so they’re going to have to pay a fine and pay back taxes and I think learn English, make sure that they don’t have a criminal record. There are some hoops that they’re going to have to jump through, but giving them a pathway is the right thing to do.

Now, unfortunately, right now this is getting demagogued. A lot of folks think it’s an easy way to score political points is by trying to act as if there’s a “them” and an “us,” instead of just an “us.” And I’m always suspicious of politics that is dividing people instead of bringing them together. I think now is the time for us to come together. And I think that economically, immigrants can actually be a huge source of strength to the country. It’s one of our big advantages is we’ve got a younger population than Europe, for example, or Japan, because we welcome immigrants and they generally don’t. And that means that our economy is more vital and we’ve got more people in the workforce who are going to be out there working and starting businesses and supporting us when we’re retired, and making sure Social Security is solvent. All those things are important.

So this is a priority that I continue to have. Frankly, the problem I’ve had right now is that — and I don’t want to get into sort of inside baseball by Washington. But basically the rules in the United States Senate have evolved so that if you don’t have 60 votes, you can’t get anything through the United States Senate right now. And several years ago, we had 11 Republican senators who were willing to vote for comprehensive immigration reform, including John McCain. They’ve all reversed themselves. I can’t get any of them to cooperate. And I don’t have 60 Democrats in the Senate.

And so we’re going to have to do this on a bipartisan basis. And my hope is, is that the Republicans who have said no and have seen their party I think use some unfortunate rhetoric around this issue, my hope is, is that they come back and say, you know, this is something that we can work on together to solve a problem instead of trying to score political points. Okay?

One major concern voiced by those making visa petitions and applications outside of the United States is that of the seeming inequities posed by the possibility of some sort of an amnesty for undocumented aliens currently in the United States. Many prospective immigrants feel that it is somewhat unjust to allow those who broke immigration rules at the outset to be granted a benefit while those waiting for their visa petition or application to process through various agencies and Departments are not accorded any special treatment while they assiduously obey relevant American Immigration laws. When one ponders this situation it would seem rather obvious that the current system is in need of reform, but as the President’s remarks imply, the problem is multi-faceted and cannot be solved quickly or easily as so many individuals and organizations have considerable interests which could be effected by a change to current US Immigration laws, regulations, and policies. Hopefully, some sort of framework can be devised which will deal with the plight of undocumented aliens while maintaining some sort of equitable position for those who chose not to travel to the USA without proper documentation.

Meanwhile, there are many who hope that any Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation will address the issues associated with same-sex bi-national couples who wish to enjoy immigration benefits equal to those of their different-sex counterparts. In the past, legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) was introduced in an effort to remedy the current restrictions imposed by provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), but such legislation has yet to be passed by the American Congress. It was recently announced that a bill proposed in the US Senate would address CIR issues and includes language designed to redress the discrimination imposed upon LGBT couples by DOMA. Although it remains to be seen how this issue will be resolved many are hopeful that Comprehensive Immigration Reform will redress many of the inequities arising from the current state of US law pertaining to immigration.

For related information please see: Comprehensive Immigration Reform or Same Sex Bi-National Visa.

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1st October 2010

As the previous post on this blog pointed out the issue of LGBT Immigration and the cause of same sex bi-national couples seeking equal rights in the realm of American immigration law has been an issue for some time. It has recently been noted on the lezgetreal.com website that Senator Robert Menendez has introduced a new proposal for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, to quote Melanie Nathan of the aforementioned website directly:

Kathy Drasky from OUT4Immigration, the group responsible for most of the grass root outreach and letter writing campaign announced on the www.Out4Immigration.org blog today that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has introduced comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) legislation that is truly comprehensive – it includes provision for same-sex binational couples.

“This monumental achievement comes after months of phone calls, letters and visits to Congressional representatives and their staffers by Out4Immigration, Immigration Equality and many, many other individuals and groups dedicated to ending immigration discrimination against LGBT Americans with foreign partners or, as we are collectively known, same-sex binational couples.

It remains unclear whether this legislation will ultimately be adopted by the United States Congress and become US law, but introduction of this legislation in combination with two pending cases in the United States Federal Courts drastically increases the odds of seeing at least some form of change in the restrictions imposed upon same sex bi-national couples under the language of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

That said, there are some who feel that passage of a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill may not necessarily mean that this current bill’s UAFA-like language will be included in the final draft. As legislation does not become law until final adoption by both the United States Congress and Senate with Presidential approval. Should the President opt to veto the legislation, then there may be no change to the current immigration restrictions placed upon same sex couples (even those legally married in a US jurisdiction) seeking American visa benefits. Furthermore, should the language of this bill change prior to final adoption, then there may be no change to the current circumstances in which many same sex bi-national couples find themselves in. Therefore, until this legislation is fully adopted, it remains likely that supporters of this legislation, as well as opponents, will remain active in promoting their respective causes.

For related information please see: Same Sex marriage visa.

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3rd April 2010

As frequent readers of this blog may be aware, two of the most hotly debated issues in the realm of United States Immigration are: Comprehensive Immigration Reform and US Family Immigration benefits for LGBT bi-national couples. A seemingly unrelated issue is that of the upcoming United States Census. Recently, the LGBT immigration blog Immigration Equality.org discussed how the US Census and the issues of Comprehensive Immigration Reform and LGBT Visas are connected:

“Research conducted by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) shows an excellent reason for undocumented immigrants to participate in the census: They can actually use the completed census form as proof of continuous physical presence in the U.S., should Congress enact a path to citizenship, with requires such proof for residency, in the future. Additionally, certified copies of completed census forms can be used as evidence of continuous presence in the U.S. under certain current laws as well. These include the amnesty program under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA); amelioration provisions of the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act of 2000; and for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) (for when one cannot return due to war, natural disasters etc.) under the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 244…There are undocumented immigrants living in the US in same-sex binational relationships as well, and they should be counted, too. A recent Immigration Equality client, living here with his American partner for nearly 20 years, was detained upon trying to re-enter the United States after going home to visit his dying mother. By participating in the confidential census process, couples like these can be “counted,” and give voice, through their numbers, to the very real plight of binational couples who have, for too long, remain too hidden in the shadows.”

As explained above, proof of having participated in a US Census can be used as evidence to show one’s continuous residence in the United States of America. Therefore, participating in the Census can be a beneficial endeavor for certain individuals.

It is interesting to note how the issue of undocumented aliens intersects with the issue of LGBT Immigration rights as these two groups would otherwise seem to have interests that are unrelated, but at this time same sex bi-national and undocumented aliens are in legally precarious position. In this author’s opinion, Comprehensive Immigration Reform could be the solution to both of these groups’ problems, but this author believes that it is more likely that the US Courts will deal with the issue of same sex immigration when they adjudicate the Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). However, the outcome with regard to all of these issues remains to be seen.

For information about US Immigration from the Kingdom of Thailand please see: US Visa Thailand.

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