Integrity Legal

30th April 2009

Comprehensive Immigration Reform has been a major issue in Washington throughout this current congressional term. However, another issue that has been gaining support in both Houses of Congress is the Uniting American Families Act, which would amend current US Immigration law to allow same sex couples US Immigration benefits.

Although there is a great deal of controversy surrounding Comprehensive Immigration reform, the UAFA is gaining momentum and may be passed sooner rather than later.

Currently the following anglophone nations allow same sex immigration based upon family relationships: Australia, Canada,  New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.  By passing the Uniting American Families Act, the US Congress would bring America into this community of nations with a similar legal tradition who have opted not to discriminate against same-sex families for immigration purposes.

A major obstacle with regard to US Immigration for same sex couples is the Defense of Marriage Act which defined marriage as a union between a man and woman. The UAFA makes no claim to change the definition of marriage, nor does it attempt to legalize the couple’s relationship in some sort of quasi marriage or civil union. Instead, the UAFA only creates new right and entitlements with regard to US Immigration. The UAFA’s language is somewhat sublime in that it bypasses a conflict with the Defense of Marriage Act by creating the term “permanent partner,” therefore not placing the two laws at odds with one another. By simply creating a new definition a conflict of laws is avoided and, in turn, a great deal less political controversy results.

The Uniting American Families Act (S. 1328/H.R. 2221) would alter the Immigration and Nationality Act to authorize visas for same sex partners of lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens. The act would regularize immigration status for same sex couples by adopting and placing the phrase “permanent partners” in the statutory definition of those entitled to US Family Immigration benefits.

As stated previously on this blog, we at Integrity Legal feel that this bill would bring US Immigration Law and policy into the 21st century by making US Immigration options open to US families of all types. The law would also create a many criminal and civil penalties for those who would use this legislation as a means of fraudulently obtaining US Visas.

Current President, Barack Obama has in the past described US Immigration rights for gay couples as being, “a moral imperative” this phrase succinctly sums up this issue.

For more on US Immigration generally please see:

K-1 Visa

US Visa Thailand

k3 Visa

(Note: Nothing contained herein should be construed as legal advice or as forming an attorney-client relationship, all legal advice should be obtained from a competent licensed attorney.)


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3 Responses to “Uniting American Families Act: Update”

  1. David Saia says:

    “the UAFA is gaining momentum and may be passed sooner rather than later.”

    It would be great if you could give us a little more info to back up that statement. I’m hoping that with the defection of Sen. Specter to the Dems, he may be free to support UAFA, providing the decisive vote in the Sen. Judiciary Committee to get the bill out of Committee on the Senate side, whether or not the two Dems whom I’m iffy on — Herbert Kohl (D-WI) and Edward Kaufman (D-DE)– come around.

    The House side is less clear. Any more concrete info that you could provide w/r/t current status of UAFA and current headcounts would be greatly appreciated.

  2. admin says:

    I made that statement more based upon the fact that Specter switched sides. This makes the Dems filibuster proof in the Senate as I understand it. There is weakness in the House as far as getting passage, but I think (and this opinion is entirely personal) that Obama needs to throw the proponents of same-sex rights some sort of reward for their support. At the same time, there is an absolute political frenzy surrounding the Comprehensive Immigration Reform issue. While the maelstrom surrounding Comprehensive Immigration reform goes on, it may be possible for the supporters of the UAFA to get their bill through with little notice. Also, I think the UAFA will be promulgated based upon some political horse trading. Even though social conservatives are against the bill, it is, in a way, a piece of legal minutia and it is hard to rally people against legalese.
    As to head counts: I’ll have to get back to you on that

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