Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘permanent partner’

21st June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the highly informative website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association has noted the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and the Reuniting Families Act (RFA) in a recent posting. Perhaps it is best to quote directly from the official website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

Uniting American Families Act of 2011 (H.R. 1537)
Introduced by Rep. Nadler (D-NY) on 4/14/11
Summary: Includes a “permanent partner” within the scope of INA. Defines a “permanent partner” as an individual 18 or older who: (1) is in a committed, intimate relationship with another individual 18 or older in which both individuals intend a lifelong commitment; (2) is financially interdependent with the other individual; (3) is not married to, or in a permanent partnership with, anyone other than the individual; (4) is unable to contract with the other individual a marriage cognizable under this Act; and (5) is not a first, second, or third degree blood relation of the other individual. Defines: (1) “permanent partnership” as the relationship existing between two permanent partners, and (2) “alien permanent partner” as the individual in a permanent partnership who is being sponsored for a visa…

Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 1796)
Introduced by Rep. Honda (D-CA) on 5/6/11
Summary: Amends the INA to establish the fiscal year worldwide level of employment-based immigrants at 140,000 plus: (1) the previous year’s unused visas, and (2) the number of unused visas from FY1992-FY2011. Establishes the fiscal year worldwide level of family-sponsored immigrants at 480,000 plus: (1) the previous year’s unused visas, and (2) the number of unused visas from FY1992-FY2011.

Revises the definition of “immediate relative” to: (1) mean a child, spouse, or parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (and for each family member of a citizen or resident, such individual’s accompanying spouse or child), except that in the case of parents such citizens shall be at least 21 years old; (2) permit a widow or widower of a U.S. citizen or resident to seek permanent resident status if married at least two years at the time of the citizen’s or resident’s death or, if married less than two years, by showing through a preponderance of the evidence that the marriage was entered into in good faith and not solely to obtain an immigration benefit; and (3) include an alien who was the child or parent of a U.S. citizen or resident at the time of the citizen’s or resident’s death if the alien files a petition within two years after such date or prior to reaching 21 years old…

This blogger encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read further into the details of all of the proposed pieces of legislation noted in the aforementioned quotation. Frequent readers of this blog may recall the initial introduction of these bills by Representative Jerrold Nadler and Representative Mike Honda, respectively. It could easily be inferred that many in the LGBT community and same-sex bi-national couples from around the globe are anxiously awaiting positive news on any of these legislative proposals.

Readers are reminded that Representative Nadler is the legislator who also proposed the Respect for Marriage Act which would provide federal recognition of the State licensure of same sex marriage. It should be noted that several sovereign American States currently legalize and/or solemnize such marital unions and jurisdictions such as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the State of California have seen cases in the federal judicial branch which may result in an end to the current discrimination felt by many couples as a result of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA).

This news comes upon the heels of interesting possible political developments in Texas which may result in State legislation pertaining to TSA activities in airports. To quote directly from the official website of 1200 WOAI News Radio out of San Antonio, Texas:

Texas lawmakers will reconsider a bill that would criminalize ‘enhanced pat downs’ by Transportation Security Administration agents at the state’s airports, after Gov. Rick Perry placed the item on the agenda for the current special session of the legislature following intense pressure from conservatives and tea party groups, 1200 WOAI news has learned. “I am grateful that the governor heard the calls of the people demanding that lawmakers stand up for the liberties of Texans,” Wesley Strackbein, a conservative activist and founder of’ TSA Tyranny.com’ told 1200 WOAI news.  Strackbein Saturday traveled to New Orleans to confront Perry at a book signing event and demand that the item be placed on the legislative  agenda…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more.

TSA‘s (Transportation Security Administration) usage of so-called “enhanced patdowns” upon children and physically/mentally challenged individuals, not to mention the public-at-large, has apparently caused intense political pressure at the grassroots level calling for restriction of these activities. It would appear as though tangible results of such pressures could be forthcoming, but until such time as a bill has actually been enacted it is difficult to say if, or when, offensive policies and procedures will actually change.

For related information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

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3rd February 2011

While online this blogger came across an interesting article regarding same sex marriage in the United States of America and the campaign to equalize marital rights for same sex couples. It would appear that Ms. Barbara Bush (no, not the former First Lady, but her granddaughter) has come out in favor of marriage equality. To quote directly from an article written by Candace Chellew-Hodge posted on the website religiondispatches.org:

First, it was Arizona Senator John McCain’s daughter Meghan who came out as a young Republican in full support of marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Now, the youngest daughter of former President George W. Bush is—like her mother Laura before her—publicly proclaiming her support for marriage equality. In a video released this week by the Human Rights Campaign, Barbara Bush, proclaims herself “a New Yorker for marriage equality.”

It is interesting to note that the issue of marriage equality does not seem to conjure up the same sort of reaction from members of different generations. Where at one time, the issue of same sex marriage and LGBT rights were once quite controversial, especially within the Republican Party, now it would appear that more cooler heads are prevailing on the subject as even religious people who have personal issues with the practice understand that personal liberty and the right to be with people that one loves are fundamental to both the human experience and the American Dream. However, not everyone feels the same way as a further quote from the aforementioned website points out:

Over at Focus on the Family’s Citizen Link, blogger Jenny Tyree isn’t surprised at Ms. Bush and Ms. McCain’s support for marriage equality. “It’s rather easy for 20-somethings—or millennials—to jump on the very tidy-looking ‘rights’ bandwagon that proponents of same-sex marriage have made marriage to be,’ she writes, rightly observing that the majority of people aged 18-29 support marriage equality.

Those reading this posting are well advised to go to religiondispatches.org to read the story in its entirety. That said, first, it should be noted that this blogger, a twenty-something, albeit a late twenty-something, himself, hates the use of the term “Millennials” when describing the generation of Americans coming of age in the new millennium. The reason for the dislike of this label stems more from the fact that it makes such people sound like flowers which bloom on a yearly basis rather than a smart savvy generation who can clearly articulate their opinions on a wide array of issues, but this is a digression.

Of interest to those seeking information regarding United States Immigration law is the fact that under the current legal framework of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) the Federal government refuses to recognize the validity of same sex marriage notwithstanding the fact that 5 Sovereign US States currently recognize and solemnize such unions. There are many who would argue that this legislation is unconstitutional on its face as it completely abrogates the States’ prerogatives with regard to marriages conducted within their jurisdiction. Furthermore, it is this blogger’s opinion that this current practice violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution as well as depriving individuals of their right to equal protection under the US Constitution and the rights conferred under the theory of “substantive due process.” In an immigration context, there have been moves in the US Congress to deal with the issue of same sex bi-national couples. Most notable have been Representative Jerrold Nadler’s attempts to gain passage of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which would create a US Visa category for “permanent partners” of United States Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. As of the time of this writing, this legislation has yet to be passed.

Under the government’s view of the law, bi-national same sex couples are not allowed to obtain US family visa benefits equal to those of their different-sex counterparts as doing so would be a violation of DOMA. Hopefully, with the support of a new generation of Americans these issues will be rectified and same sex couples will be afforded the same Constitutional liberties and immigration benefits as their different-sex counterparts.

Fore related information please see: Permanent Partner Visas.

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31st January 2011

The issue of Federal recognition of same sex marriage is one which remains stuck in this bloggers mind like a splinter. The issue is vexing because the United States Federal government has clearly usurped sovereign State prerogatives on the issue while simultaneously trampling upon individual civil rights to equal protection under the laws of the United States as well as the fundamental Constitutional right to freely and peaceably associate with whomever one wishes to associate with. That said, the issue is, in this blogger’s opinion, best analyzed pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution of the USA.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) currently prohibits the United States Federal government from recognizing a marriage or civil union between two individuals of the same sex. Most legal scholars approach the issue of same sex marriage and the preclusion of Federal recognition from a civil rights perspective. Although this blogger wholeheartedly agrees that LGBT rights issues do generally fall under the umbrella of civil liberties, the ramifications of DOMA upon the sovereign American States is the most unfortunate aspect of the current state of affairs.

To quote directly from Wikipedia.com:

In Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., marriages for same-sex couples are legal and currently performed.

This is important to note as there are American States which explicitly prohibit the recognition of marriages between two people of the the same sex. Conversely, as noted above, there are currently five (5) states which allow same sex marriage. This has lead to a situation in which there is little interstate uniformity regarding this issue. As their site puts things so succinctly it may be best to quote Wikipedia.com’s entry on this issue further:

There has been much speculation on the clause’s possible application to same-sex marriage, civil union, and domestic partnership laws and cases, as well as the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. Between 1996 and 2004, 39 states passed their own laws and constitutional amendments, sometimes called “mini DOMAs,” which define marriage as consisting solely of opposite-sex couples. Most of these “mini DOMAs” explicitly prohibit the state from honoring same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries. Conversely, several states have legalized same-sex marriage, either legislatively or by state supreme court judgment.

The United States Supreme Court has not ruled on how (if at all) these laws are affected by the Full Faith and Credit Clause. However, in August 2007, a federal appeals court held that the clause did require Oklahoma to recognize adoptions by same-sex couples which were finalized in other states.[18]

If the Full Faith and Credit clause is given its traditional interpretation, it has no application to same-sex marriage, and the DOMA legislation is superfluous and even dangerous, as it may lead to a misconstruction of the Full Faith and Credit clause. If a state is required to recognize a same sex marriage, it will be pursuant to the Equal Protection Clause, as was the case with respect to interracial marriages.

The final paragraph of this citation is most notable to this blogger as it is the section in which he is in disagreement. To understand the reasoning behind this blogger’s disbelief in the assertions stated in this Wikipedia.com posting one must first read the actual text of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution:

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

It is virtually self-evident, in this author’s opinion, that the plain language of the Full Faith and Credit Clause will compel broad recognition of same sex marriage in the USA. Rather than looking at the issue from a civil rights perspective (which requires lengthy analysis into what are, in this author’s opinion, superfluous issues such as personal or religious feeling regarding same sex marriage which have no place in a reasoned legal analysis of the issue) simply examine the plain language of the Clause itself. The clause explicitly states that Full Faith and Credit SHALL be given to the public RECORDS of every other State.

What does this mean from a practical perspective? To use a hypothetical: two people of the same sex go to the State of Iowa (a jurisdiction which, according to a citation above, both recognizes and solemnizes same sex marriage) and get married. To quote the official Iowa County, Iowa website:

Iowa Vital Records are official registrations of births, deaths and marriages. Certified copies of Vital Records can be obtained from a County Recorder’s office or the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Once an official record is made of a registered same sex marriage does not the Full Faith and Credit Clause operate to compel interstate recognition of such a record? One would think, but there are exceptions to this kind of broad application of the Full Faith and Credit Clause as States which have clear public policies in conflict with foreign State Judgments, Acts, or Records may be permitted to ignore such Judgments, Acts, or Records (foreign judgments always seem to be accorded more preference from an interstate enforcement standpoint).

InterState recognition of same sex marriage, or as this blogger prefers to refer to it: Horizontal Full Faith and Credit of same sex marriage; is not really the main thrust of this post as the more pressing concern for the purposes of this article is Federal recognition of same sex marriage notwithstanding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The interstate implications of some states fully recognizing same sex marriage while other states fail to recognize such unions are interesting topics, but the main issue of this posting is what this blogger refers to as Vertical Full Faith and Credit. Namely, Federal recognition of same sex marriage lawfully solemnized in a sovereign State. Since when was the United States Federal government able to pick and choose which State laws it was willing to recognize? To quote directly from USLegal.com:

The full faith and credit doctrine as applicable to the federal courts in recognizing the records and judicial proceedings of state courts is contained in 28 U.S.C. § 1738.  The full faith and credit rule pertains to recognition by state courts of the records and judicial proceedings of courts of sister States; this includes every court within the United States.  This provision also includes recognition of the records and proceedings of the courts of any territory or any country subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.  By this provision, the federal courts are also bound to give to the judgments of the state courts the same faith and credit that the courts of one State are bound to give to the judgments of the courts of their sister States…

Pursuant to a plain language analysis of the Constitution it is this author’s opinion that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional as it requires the Federal government to disregard the Acts, Records, and Judgments creating same sex marital relationships within the jurisdiction of Sovereign States in direct violation of the plain language of the Full Faith and Credit Clause itself. Although there is a Civil Rights perspective to this issue, the major point that should not be overlooked is that fact that the US Congress is attempting, through enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act, to dictate to the States what shall constitute a valid marriage. In the past, legalization and solemnization of marriage was within the exclusive bailiwick of the State especially as such matters tend to pertain to public health and safety issues.

This has very large practical implications especially for same sex bi-national couples as the Federal government, pursuant to DOMA, cannot grant American family visa benefits to the same sex partner of a US Citizen (notwithstanding the fact that the couple may have solemnized a legally binding marriage within one of the sovereign American States that allows same sex marriages). Hopefully this injustice will be dealt with soon as it is unfortunate that the rights of the States and the people are being disregarded as a result of DOMA’s continued enforcement.

In recent months, efforts have been made to pass legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). Bills such as this would mitigate some of the discrimination which is routinely deployed against same sex bi-national families as the language of the proposed bill (and that of those similar to it) would allow for the “permanent partners” of American Citizens and lawful permanent residents to apply for US visa benefits in much the same manner as foreign fiancees and spouses of US Citizens and lawful permanent residents. This legislation, and that like it, is a good step in the right direction, but it does not address the myriad legal rights and privileges routinely deprived to same sex couples under the current Federal regime.

For related information please see: Same Sex Partner Visa.

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16th June 2009

The White House has been under increasing pressure since Obama’s inauguration to provide equal benefits to same sex couples under United States law. Recently Hillary Clinton reversed previous State Department policy by providing same sex partners of State Department employees with most of the benefits extended to different sex couples (including diplomatic passports for partners).

From the Associated Press: “President Barack Obama, under growing criticism for not seeking to end the ban on openly gay men and women in the military, is extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.”

The question is: will Obama go further in extending benefits to same-sex couples? Specifically, does Obama feel that this gesture is enough to placate the Gay community or will he go further in fulfilling the campaign promises calling for greater equality?

Of particular importance from an Immigration perspective: will the Uniting American Families Act be passed? This law would provide equalized immigration benefits for same-sex couples. Under the Defense of Marriage Act same sex couples are barred from receiving many of the immigration benefits accorded to different sex couples.

The feeling of many American Immigration Lawyers is that UAFA, or some bill similar to the UAFA, will eventually become law. The question is: when?

Hopefully for these families who are being kept apart by Immigration restrictions the UAFA will pass sooner rather than later. The task now is to keep pressure on politicians to pass the legislation. Many believe that Comprehensive Immigration Reform will have some sort of UAFA-like provision rolled into it. This would probably be the most expedient way of dealing with the same-sex immigration situation. However, there is the possibility that a concession such as adding “permanent partner” to the list of those eligible for family immigration benefits, as called for in UAFA, could be cast aside in a committee room or in back room “horse trading” in an effort to save CIR.

The fate of the Uniting American Families Act remains to be seen, but hopefully this legislation will pass. Until the day it is signed into law, no one can say for sure if same-sex immigration benefits will ever be granted

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24th March 2009

The Uniting of American Families Act (UAFA) is a bill currently in Congress that would amend the US Immigration and Nationality Act in an effort to end discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and the trans-gendered US Immigration legislation by allowing “permanent partners” of US Citizens and permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same way as conventional spouses of American citizens and lawful permanent residents and to penalize immigration fraud related to non-bona fide “permanent partnerships.”

The most important aspect of this legislation is the addition of the term “permanent partner,” to current Immigration law. Under the proposed legislation proving permanent partnership would be defined as someone who:

(A) is in a committed, intimate relationship with another individual 18 years of age or older in which both parties intend a lifelong commitment;
(B) is financially interdependent with that other individual;
(C) is not married to or in a permanent partnership with anyone other than that other individual;
(D) is unable to contract with that other individual a marriage cognizable under this Act; and
(E) is not a first, second, or third degree blood relation of that other individual.
...with liberty and justice for ALL

...with liberty and justice for ALL

In my opinion, these “permanent partner” visas will require a great deal more evidence to prove a relationship than a conventional marriage visa, but at the same time it could closely resemble the K1 Fiance Visa in that, the K1 is a visa not based upon a marriage but an underlying bona fide relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary.  After the sweeping election of Democrats in November there is a better chance than ever that this legislation will pass, but in order to get this through it may still require pressure being brought to bear on local Congressmen and Senators. So if this is an issue for you or someone you know, then call your local representative and tell them to vote for the Uniting of American Families Act.

Should this legislation be passed it would be a major victory for the LGBT Immigration movement. For more information please visit the following sites:

Immigration Equality

UAFA on Wikipedia

LGBT Immigration Rights

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