Equality California
State of California Formally Endorses Immigration Rights for Same-Sex Couples

2010 Press Releases

June 28, 2010

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

State of California Formally Endorses Immigration Rights for Same-Sex Couples

Sacramento – Today the State Senate passed a resolution with a 23-12 vote that included bipartisan support, endorsing a federal law that would permit U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor a same-sex partner for immigration. The resolution, AJR 15, introduced by Assembly Member Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and co-sponsored by Equality California and Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality (AACRE), formally requests that the United States Congress pass and President Obama sign the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).

“Our broken immigration system unfairly discriminates against thousands of families headed by same-sex couples by keeping them apart,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California. “It is in the hands of Congress and President Obama to end this grave injustice. We call on them to pass and sign into law the Uniting American Families Act, thus ensuring that all families, regardless of sexual orientation, enjoy the security and stability that all families deserve.”

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 "They live in legal limbo and are torn apart by outdated immigration policies.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. Endorsed by the State Assembly in September of last year, the resolution now awaits a procedural concurrent vote in the Assembly.

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

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California 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. Equality California has passed over 60 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org