FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2009
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De León Urges Congress to Eliminate Immigration Barriers for Same Sex Couples
EQCA-Sponsored Resolution Calls for Passage of Uniting American Families Act
Sacramento – Today, Assembly Member Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 15. Sponsored by Equality California (EQCA), the resolution formally requests the United States Congress pass and President Barack Obama sign the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). Under current federal law, American citizens are permitted to sponsor an opposite-sex spouse applying for legal residency. The UAFA seeks to extend this basic right to committed same-sex couples, who are currently prohibited from sponsoring their partners.
“It is disheartening that self-proclaimed pro-family groups and elected officials continue to support a law that harms so many families and children,” said Geoff Kors, EQCA Executive Director. “We are calling on Congress and the President to take immediate action to address this serious problem by passing and signing the UAFA this year.”
The UAFA was introduced by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Congressman Jarrold Nadler (D-NY) on February 12, 2009. There are currently 95 co-sponsors of this bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, and 17 co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate.
“Hundreds of American families are living in legal limbo and are torn apart by not being able to sponsor their partner for immigration,” said Assembly Member De León. “This tremendous inequality is fundamentally un-American and Congress must take immediate steps to protect all families once and for all.”
The UAFA would amend the nation’s Immigration and Nationality Act by adding same-sex “permanent partners” to the list of family members that a U.S. citizen or legal resident can sponsor for immigration. Under the proposed legislation, a “permanent partner” is described as an adult who is in a committed, intimate, financially interdependent relationship with another adult in “which both parties intend a lifelong commitment.”
According to the U.S. Census, approximately 35,000 bi-national, same-sex couples currently live in the United States. At least sixteen other nations already have immigration policies allowing the sponsorship of same-sex partners: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender-rights advocacy organization in California. In the past decade, EQCA has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil-rights protections in the nation. EQCA has passed over 50 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org