Joe Mirabella

Gays and lesbians left at the border in immigration reform bill

Filed By Joe Mirabella | December 30, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: DOMA, immigration, Rep Solomon Ortiz, UAFA, uniting american families act

The LGBT community has been working for immigration reform for years. Our families are regularly split apart because we can not sponsor our foreign born loved ones for citizenship like married heterosexual couples can.

Americans are forced to split up their families or leave this country for more fair minded countries like the UK or Canada when their same gender spouse's green card or visa expires. The policy is inhumane but persists because our Congress enjoys the status quo.

We hoped this issue would be corrected in the forthcoming immigration reform bill in the pipeline for next year. However, because some members of Congress are squeamish about our families, splitting up families will likely continue. Our only hope for an inclusive immigration reform bill is via an amendment, but there is doubt that is very likely either.

ACT on Principles reported:

Here is the problem: The bill is now out of the hands of Equality Caucus and Hispanic Caucus Member Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL-4) and has been passed to its new sponsor, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Founder Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX-27)--who is not even a cosponsor of ENDA or DADT repeal.

Representative Ortiz says that "some Hispanic lawmakers may be uneasy with the same-sex provision for cultural reasons, and they may need more time to weigh it. 'They feel a little uncomfortable. I think that's what it is, to be honest with you,' he said."

Why has this bill been turned over to Representative Ortiz, and taken from the more openly LGBT friendly Representative Gutierrez?

And if that has you worried, there is more that has been uncovered:

The majority of Congressional Hispanic Caucus Members are cosponsors of DOMA repeal, 11 out of 21 members to be exact.

In fact it seems Rep. Ortiz is the one who feels "uncomfortable." His HRC scorecard is pathetic. He received a 50% score in 110th Congress, 25% in 109th, and 22% in 108th. Oritz is not even a co-sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act, a separate bill which would allow same gender domestic partners or married couples to sponsor their loved ones for citizenship.

The Uniting American Families Act still has a long way to go if it is going to pass. The whip count does not look good:

Sponsors & Cosponsors 117
Leaning Yes 81
Leaning No 207
No 1
Unknown 29

We sure could use a "fierce advocate" in the immigration debate.

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I have written to some "mainstream" Hispanic immigration groups about this matter. They don't want to hear about it. All blog comments referencing gay and lesbian couples are immediately deleted, all emails are ignored. The reason they are "uncomfortable" is obvious: The Catholic Bishops have told them if they include gays and lesbians in immigration reform the church won't support it. So, once again, we have a tax-exempt religious organization lobbying Congress to deny us equality under the law. Gay and Lesbian loving couples, many long separated or living in exile, being left out of this bill, is a disgrace. I know for a fact that Rep. Gutierrez received many calls, visits and emails encouraging, pleading with him to include us. But, the good Congressman decided to kiss the ring of the Bishops and gave equality the cold shoulder. So much for "comprehensive" immigration reform. I urge everyone who reads this to go to, look up LGBT Immigration Rights, and take action. Write to your member of Congress and your Senators and ask them to co-sponsor the UAFA (H.R. 1024/S.424).

No problem. The is always GOProud, which has its own vision of immigration reform.

Where exactly is the "no problem"? In the fact that once again a Democrat that has received both gay money and gay votes in the past has thrown once again gay people under the bus? In the complete silence about this issue in the gay community (I am not even bothering to mention the lack of posts about the issue on bilerico since this is the site after all that posted against UAFA)? In the latino community once again smacking the gay community in the face?

The UAFA is perhaps one of the most important pieces of LGBT legislation and an analysis of its history will quickly point out why the LGBT, Democratic and progressive groups will have it thrown under the rag.

Rich - hey - do you mind contacting me off list to discuss more about those conversations you had with the mainstream hispanic immigrations groups... we're working on a grassroots strategy and would like to know more. at [email protected]

Janus - you too if you don't mind talking more about the historical reasons... [email protected]

Let's work this into a plan.

I am so tired of this. It angers and disappoints me to see my hopes and dreams crushed. I am a human being. I work my fingers to the bone. I pay taxes. I abide by the law. My partner comes and goes every few months. I am forever hopeful and trying to remain positive. I wonder, did african americans in the 60's, fighting for their civil rights sit down and take it? No they marched and demanded their rights. Without being offensive or discourteous, do we sit and take it, or stand and fight? I know we are fighting with kit gloves on, but I think its time for a bit more aggression. I know people are out there working hard and not to diminish anyone's efforts, but with the traction we do have,our efforts seem to be thwarted at every move we make. Its time to hit this country where it hurts, the wallet. Adjust my taxes, why should I pay for your kids to go to school or your community agendas when I am considered a second class citizen. I am a citizen of the EU and every day I try to hold out for a change, but I fear it is not coming in my lifetime.

Signed, Harried and almost hopeless

This angers me beyond words... it has cost us over $30,0000 over the past 12 years in legal and visa and travel fees that my heterosexual colleagues do not have to put up with. As soon as he finishes his doctorate, I am retiring early, and getting a job with him in Brasil (where he is from) where I can get a permanent visa, and even immigrate and was welcomed at the Brazilian consulate...

Shame on this this do nothing Congress, that expects us to pay taxes, yet receive less than others.