Uniting American Families Act Reintroduced with Record Support

Media Contacts:
Amos Lim, Out4Immigration, 415-608-5526, amos@out4immigration.org
Kathy Drasky, Out4Immigration, 415-606-2085, kathy@out4immigration.org

Legislation and Letter from Congress Increases Demand for Protection of Same-Sex Binational Couples, Families from Discriminatory Immigration Law

Washington, DC — April 14, 2011 — The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) was reintroduced in the House and Senate today by long-time equal rights advocates Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-8) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The legislation is backed by 98 co-sponsors in the House and 18 in the Senate, a record for the bill on reintroduction. It has been introduced in every session of Congress since 2000.

The bill would add three words to existing US immigration law – “or permanent partner” – wherever the word spouse appears, facilitating the need for LGBT Americans to obtain green cards for their partners while they wait for repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

“Thousands of committed same-sex couples are needlessly suffering because of unequal treatment under our immigration laws, and this is an outrage,” said Nadler. “Our Constitution guarantees that no class of people will be singled out for differential treatment — and LGBT Americans should not and must not be excluded from that guarantee.”

Adding a one-two punch to UAFA’s reintroduction is a letter from Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-16), the ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement, calling on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice to stop denying LGBT green card applications and stop separating LGBT binational families. The letter was signed by 48 House members and adds weight to a similar letter sent last week by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and 11 of his colleagues requesting the same immediate remedy to what Rep. Nadler has repeatedly called “gratuitous cruelty.”

UAFA comes into the 112th Congress under a much different landscape than previous introductions of the bill. While Democrats no longer control the House and hold a slimmer majority in the Senate, support for same-sex binationals has grown since President Obama’s directive on February 23 that the federal government stop defending Section 3 of DOMA on the basis that the law – which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages – is unconstitutional.

No group is harder hit by DOMA than same-sex binational couples and their families, many who have been forced into exile or literally torn apart by immigration law that adheres to the DOMA decree that marriage is defined as “one man and one woman.” As a result, these couples, regardless of legal marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships are treated as “legal strangers”.

Efforts to slow down individual deportation proceedings targeting the foreign partner in these relationships have achieved some successes of late by delaying deportations on a case by case basis, in part due to the Obama administration determination that DOMA is unconstitutional. This administration’s new DOMA position caused a major uproar last month when the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) seemed to suggest that it would hold green card applications filed by same-sex couples in abeyance until DOMA was repealed or struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Although USCIS reversed this decision within 36 hours, advocates for same-sex binational couples, like Out4Immigration, are petitioning USCIS, DHS, DOJ and the White House to restore the abeyance policy and implement a moratorium on deportations, urging an administrative fix until judicial and legislative actions can occur.

With advocacy engines now firing on all three branches of government – relief in some form for the heartbreak and injustice an estimated 36,000 same-sex binationals and their families incur has never seemed more possible. Out4Immigration urges more couples to come forward and tell their stories to continue to build and sustain the momentum. The all-volunteer, grassroots group can be contacted at info@out4immigration.org.

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For more information:
Uniting American Families Act Reintroduced in Congress: http:www.thetaskforce.org/press/releases/pr_uafa_041411
Gay Immigration Battle Heats Up: http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/04/14/Gay_Immigration_Battle_Heats_Up/
Dear USCIS: Don’t Go Back to Denying Green Cards to Loving, Same-Sex Couples: http://www.change.org/petitions/dear-uscis-dont-go-back-to-denying-green-cards-to-loving-same-sex-couples#?opt_new=t&opt_fb=t
Senators Kerry, Leahy, 10 Others Ask DOJ, DHS to Hold Same-Sex Binational Couples’ Immigration Petitions: http://www.metroweekly.com/poliglot/2011/04/senators-kerry-leahy-10-others.html
Gay Immigrant Couples’ Future Remains Uncertain after Judge Postpones Deportation Hearing: http://news.feetintwoworlds.org/2011/04/04/future-for-gay-immigrant-couple-remains-uncertain-following-judges-postponement-of-deportation-hearing/

Australian English Cracks onto OED

While everybody (well, English majors at least) is talking about the latest additions to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) – LOL, OMG and the heart symbol, ♥ – few have noticed a couple of Australianisms have sneaked in.

In addition to the universal shortcuts made popular through tweeting, texting and IM’ing – “flat white,” “tragic,” and “yidaki” all received the approval of the English language tome of record.

Spending a lot of time Down Under, I’ve learned the fastest way to get a drinkable coffee is to order a flat white, which according to the OED is “a style of espresso drink with finely textured foamed milk”.

You would indeed be “tragic” if you insisted on having your coffee the Starbucks way, and tried to get a cup of American-style black coffee and hunt around the cafe for a full bar stocked with multiple milk and soy choices, not too mention the powdered chocolate. For those unfamiliar with this sarcastic phrase, someone is referred to as tragic per the OED if they are a “boring or socially inept person, esp. one with an obsessive interest or hobby”.

And for the record, a “yidaki” is “an Australian Aboriginal term for the musical instrument better known in English as a didgeridoo.”

Source: OED Latest Update, March 2011.

Tasmanian Devil Needs a PR Makeover

Tasmanian devil II

Paging Warner Brothers. Bugs Bunny’s old nemesis the Tasmanian Devil has more problems than you think. In real life, the seldom-seen animal is “the size of a cocker spaniel, beady-eyed, standoffish and fond of displaying a mouthful of pointy teeth. Picture a skunk, with the jaws of an alligator and the charm of a weasel,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

About a year ago, it was reported that these animals were facing extinction due to a rare and ugly genetic disease (albeit one that held possible links to cancer treatment). The Los Angeles Times follows up saying that things could improve for the world’s largest carnivorous marsupials if only the folks Down Under would embrace the devils in a more warm and fuzzy way. Perhaps then they’d get behind publicizing the need for help and support the eradication of devil facial tumour disease (DFTD), which causes tumors “to sprout around the devil’s mouth, quickly morphing into bulbous red pustules that eventually take over the animal’s entire face, leaving it unable to eat or drink.” Afflicted animals ultimately starve to death.

Help is out there, but it is a matter of getting Aussies – and those who want to help save an endangered species – to take up the cause. One organization is called Devil Ark, which is dedicated to establishing and maintaining a population of healthy, genetically diverse Tasmanian devils.(Read more)

Sources: Los Angeles Times, Devil Ark and KazzaDrask Media.