For immediate release:
September 18, 2007
Amos Lim, 415-375-3765
amos (at) out4immigration.org
Chris Haiss, 213-864-1377
chris (at) out4immigration.org
K.T. Drasky, 415-606-2085
ktdrasky (at) yahoo.com
Out4Immigration Applauds Senator Barbara Boxer’s Commitment to Equal Immigration Rights for Same-Sex Binational Couples
Boxer Co-Sponsors Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), Flies Flag to Commemorate Americans Forced into Exile Due to Discriminatory Immigration Policy
SAN FRANCISCO, CA —September 18, 2007—Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has become the seventh US Senator to co-sponsor the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). The legislation, introduced in the Senate (S. 1328) and House (H.R. 2221) earlier this year would amend current US immigration law and give same-sex binational couples the same immigration rights as their heterosexual counterparts to stay together legally in the United States.
“Out4Immigration is honored by Senator Boxer’s continuous and undying support of LGBT families and our struggle for equality in the US immigration system,” said Michael Lim, Vice President of Out4Immigration (www.out4immigration.org), a grassroots organization dedicated to raising awareness about the discrimination LGBT Americans and their foreign partners face under current US immigration law. “Senator Boxer’s support of the UAFA shows that she truly understands the dilemma faced by her LGBT constituents in love with a foreign partner. If the partner cannot obtain a visa, the couple cannot legally stay in the US.”
It was this constant threat of exile and exodus of untold thousands of same-sex binational couples from the US each year that prompted Out4Immigration board member and volunteer Chris Haiss to take the group’s appeal for Senator Boxer’s support to another level.
“Same-sex binational couples face a cruel dilemma not encountered by any other group. If the foreign partner cannot find a legal means to stay in the US and has to leave the country, then the US citizen is forced to choose between country and partner,” explained Haiss. While more than 18 countries currently recognize same-sex relationships for immigration purposes, only couples fortunate enough to have a work or citizenship option in one of these countries can relocate. The price of this exile is costly—and not just in monetary terms.
“Many same-sex binational couples have spent many years together in the US. They have children, parents, siblings, friends, coworkers and communities. They have homes and careers. And all of this is put in jeopardy because of current US immigration law. To honor these couples and their families, and the decisions they’ve been forced to make, we wanted to have the US flag flown over the Capitol on Independence Day,” said Haiss.
Asking Senator Boxer to arrange for the flag flying ceremony was part of the Out4Immigration strategy to raise awareness led by Haiss, which also included urging the group’s 300 volunteer members to write, email and fax the Senator to co-sponsor the UAFA. “Senator Boxer has supported the UAFA (formerly known as the Permanent Partners Immigration Act) ever since 2003, the year of its first introduction in the US Senate,” said Haiss. “Each time we get a new Congress we have to reintroduce legislation that did not pass in the previous session. We have to get in touch with all our supporters and urge them to sign on again.”
Senator Boxer requested that the US flag fly over the Capitol on July 4, 2007 in “memory of US citizens forced into exile; in hope that our families will be recognized one day.” The flag was subsequently given to Out4Immigration as a symbol of the Senator’s allegiance in continuing the fight for equality for all US citizens. She confirmed this support last week with the addition of her name as a co-sponsor of the UAFA. Its passage would add the words “or permanent partner” to existing US immigration law everywhere the word “spouse” appears. This small, but significant change would end the discrimination affecting an estimated 36,000 same-sex binational couples currently residing in the United States, and allow those US citizens living in exile to return home with their partners.
“This gesture speaks volumes not only in the Senator’s commitment to her constituents but also all LGBT couples suffering this injustice,” said Lim. “We can only hope that Senator Boxer’s fine example will lead her colleagues in the Senate who profess support for LGBT equality to do the same and support the UAFA.”
Out4Immigration addresses the widespread discriminatory impact of US immigration laws on the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV+ people and their families through education, outreach, advocacy and the maintenance of a resource and support network. For more information, visit www.out4immigration.org. To schedule interviews with same-sex binational couples who are available to speak with the media on this issue, including Spanish-speaking couples, please contact Amos Lim, amos (at) out4immigration.org at 415-375-3765. This press release was prepared for Out4Immigration by KazzaDrask Media, K.T. Drasky, proprietor. For more information on media coverage for your non-profit organization, contact: kazzadrask (at) yahoo.com.