Equality California
California Assembly Urges Congress to Extend Immigration Rights to Same-Sex Couples

2010 Press Releases

September 8, 2009

CONTACT: Vaishalee Raja, Equality California
PHONE: 916-284-9187 EMAIL: vaishalee@eqca.org

California Assembly Urges Congress to Extend Immigration Rights to Same-Sex Couples

Sacramento – Today the State Assembly passed a resolution officially endorsing a federal law ending discriminatory immigration policies by permitting U.S. citizens and permanent residents to obtain lawful immigration status for a same-sex partner by a 41-28 vote. The resolution, AJR 15, introduced by Assembly Member Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and co-sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality (AACRE), formally requests that the United States Congress pass and President Barack Obama sign the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).

“Our current immigration laws keep thousands of families apart simply because they are headed by same-sex couples,” said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. “We urge Congress and the President to stop penalizing these families and to pass the Uniting American Families Act so that all families enjoy equal protections and security under the law regardless of sexual orientation.”

Under current federal law, U.S. citizens and permanent residents can file visa petitions on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse. The UAFA, introduced by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would amend the nation’s Immigration and Nationality Act by adding same-sex “permanent partners” to the list of family members for whom a U.S. citizen or permanent resident can petition. The bill defines a “permanent partner” as an adult who is in a committed, intimate, financially interdependent relationship with another adult in “which both parties intend a lifelong commitment.”

"Thousands of American families and committed same-sex couples are denied basic rights and legal protections, including the ability to petition for a partner to immigrate to the U.S.," said Assemblymember De León. "They live in legal limbo and are torn apart by outdated immigration policies. In ensuring a true state of equality, Congress must take immediate steps to reunite and protect all families once and for all."

According to the U.S. Census, approximately 35,000 bi-national, same-sex couples currently live in the United States. At least 16 other nations already have immigration policies allowing the sponsorship of same-sex partners including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

There are currently 115 co-sponsors of the UAFA in the U.S. House of Representatives, and 21 co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate. AJR 15 will advance to the State Senate for consideration in January.

For more information about EQCA's legislation, visit www.eqca.org/legislation.

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