Immigration Rights for Same-Sex Binational Couples Making Headlines – UAFA Picks Up Call for LGBT Rights after DADT Repeal

The first step toward equal marriage and immigration rights for LGBT people in the several countries that provide these rights started with allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve in their country’s military.

With the repeal of DADT at the end of 2010, LGBT groups and activists looking to keep the momentum alive toward full federal equal rights in the United States have turned toward immigration rights for gay and lesbian American citizens with foreign partners – same-sex binational couples – as the next logical step in our civil rights struggle (short of full repeal of DOMA and eventual passage of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, or ENDA).

Getting the LGBT community behind the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), legislation that would add three words to existing US immigration law and include “or permanent partner” wherever the word “spouse” appears was initially a hard sell. There were those who wanted full federal equal marriage rights – all 1,138 of them – and UAFA only offers one, the right of a citizen to sponsor their spouse (or in our case, “intended” spouse, “fiancée”, if you will, since many of us live in a permanent state of engagement while waiting for state laws to shake down and the federal government to recognize those). (Read more)

Oprah’s 10-Star Treatment Down Under

WATCH VIDEO: Oprah’s Australian Adventure

As the dust settles on Oprah’s thunder Down Under (episodes taped last December at the…ahem, Sydney “Oprah” House have now aired in both the US and Australia), the proof will be in the sticky date pudding. Will the $5 million the Australian government spent on the junket pay off in record numbers of Americans spending gobs of tourist dollars in Sydney, Alice Springs, Cairns and Kakadu? And, if the Americans do come, will they be disappointed when the 10-star treatment Oprah and her guests received is reduced to 5, or 3 or truly low-budget limited to last-minute deals on or hosteling?

Sally Morrell of the Herald Sun asks the question of whether or not Oprah “made Australia look too good?” Barbecues with celebrity chefs on remote beaches, private helicopter rides and closeups with cuddly kangaroos on demand aren’t typically a part of the average package deal. But the wonderful openness of the people and a pie at Harry de Wheels are two things Oprah reported on that are accessible to all.

‘Shut Up Little Man!: An Audio Misadventure’ to Premiere at Sundance Film Fest, January 22

They are urban legend – Raymond and Peter, the raging alcoholic roommates from San Francisco’s Lower Haight, whose drunken tirades were captured by their neighbors on audiotape back in late 1980s. Now, two decades later, their story is re-told by Australian filmmaker Matthew Bate via interviews, old film clips, music by DEVO side project the Wipeouters and, of course, classic audiotape excerpts in Shut Up Little Man: An Audio Misadventure, premiering this Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival. Early buzz shows just a few tickets are left.

Bate has an innovative way of putting urban legend to film as was witnessed in his short doc The Mystery of the Flying Kicks shown at SXSW last year. Now he takes on the feature length format. Various types in San Francisco (yes, we know who we are!) giddily await SULM’s local premiere, hopefully in the not too distant future.

Postscript: Read the Variety review of the Sundance premiere.

‘Torn Apart: United by Love, Divided by Law’

Torn Apart: United by Love, Divided by Law is a new book by LGBT activist Judy Rickard that tells the stories of same-sex binational couples, quite literally “torn apart” by US immigration laws.

“Same-sex binational couples” are gay and lesbian American citizens in loving and committed relationships with someone from another country. In many cases these couples are legally married, in the state they have lived in or in a country that recognizes same-sex marriages (i.e., Canada, The Netherlands, Spain). Some 23 countries now recognize same-sex relationships for immigration purposes (countries like Ireland, Australia, Brazil). Sadly, the US is not one of these countries, and as result Judy has written Torn Apart.

Judy and her partner Karin (who is from the UK) currently spend only 6 months of the year living together. Both are retired, and as result, work and student visas that might be able to keep them together in America are not options. Every year, Karin comes to the US to spend 6 months with Judy. Every year, her highly anticipated visit is fraught with uncertainty and left to the determination of the person behind the desk at US Customs, who can deny Karin entry simply because he or she thinks she has been to the US too many times – not because she has broken any laws.

Judy and Karin’s story (as well as those of several other same-sex binational couples told in this book) underscore how important it is to either pass the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) or repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to stop the cruelty of separating American citizens from those they love.

With foreword by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) who shares her “opposite-sex binational couple” love story and the happy ending the US government offered her (“marry your partner and you two can live here happily ever after”). Pre-order your copy today using the code OUT416. A kind donation will be made in your name to Out4Immigration, the all-volunteer, grassroots group that works toward ending immigration discrimination against same-sex binational couples. (Judy’s subtitle pays homage to O4I’s tagline “United by Love, Divided by Law.)

The Biggest Online Media Trends of 2010

None of these will surprise you too much, but they are worth noting in the year that just was:

* Facebook logged over 500 million active users (giving the social networking site a virtual population larger than the world’s third largest nation).
* Collective buying pioneer Groupon turned down a staggering US$6 billion acquisition offer from Google (triggering an online land-grab for collective buying sites).
* The oldest members of Gen Y turned 30 (bringing their ‘digital native’ customs into the mainstream), while Baby-Boomers finally earned the nickname ‘silver surfers’.
* Five billion iPhone apps were downloaded. YouTube video views exceeded two billion… per day. An average 600 tweets were posted… per second!

Source: Australian Anthill