Partners Task Force for Gay & Lesbian Couples
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The U.S. Immigration Bills
“Permanent Partners Immigration Act”
“Uniting American Families Act”

© March 4, 2009, Demian


Because same-sex couples are barred from legal marriage, more than 1,138 Federal rights which are triggered by this legal status are also denied.
      [See U.S. Federal Laws for the Legally Married]

Among those rights is the ability to sponsor a married partner, who is not American, for citizenship.

By denial of the most basic right of legal marriage, American citizens, who have a same-sex partner, often find their family ripped apart when visas run out, and the foreign partner must leave the country. Or their foreign partner is not allowed to legally work to help support their family.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) described the barbaric U.S. policy of forced separation of binational same-sex couples as “Not only a question of equality and rights. It’s also a question of gratuitous cruelty.”

On February 14 (Valentine’s day) in 2000, Nadler filed “Permanent Partners Immigration Act of 2000.” to allow a U.S. citizen with a same-sex foreign partner to sponsor their foreign partner for immigration. The bill was initially HR3650, and later re-numbered to HR690.

In 2003, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) brought companion legislation before the Senate.
While gaining many co-sponsors, the bill never got to committee for a vote.

On June 21, 2005, Nadler introduced a second bill, “Uniting American Families Act.”

As of January 2007, about 104 members of Congress from both houses co-sponsor the bill.


Rationale in Support of an Immigration Bill
  • U.S. Immigration policy purports to support and promote family unity. Because same-sex couples are family, these policies should include the families of same-sex couples.
  • There are currently 16 major world countries which allow the sponsoring of a same-sex partner for immigration. These are:
    Australia
    Belgium - offers legal marriage
    Brazil
    Canada - offers legal marriage
    Denmark
    Finland
    France
    Germany
    Iceland
    Israel
    Netherlands - offers legal marriage
    New Zealand
    Norway
    South Africa - offers legal marriage
    Sweden
    United Kingdom
    The United States should be in the forefront of recognizing basic human rights for its own citizens.
  • Economist Alan Greenspan testified in 2002 that increasing immigration is key to keeping our economy booming.
  • Greenspan also favored increasing the number of “H1B cap” work permits allowing foreigners to work here for a specific time. Senator Orrin Hatch introduced a bill to increase the H1B cap in 2002. Because a great number of same-sex partners have used this type of permit, allowing them access under the “Permanent Partners Immigration Act” would free up additional H1B work permits.
  • It is estimated that there are at least 10,000 people who would benefit from such laws, finally being able to sponsor their partners.


Permanent Partners Immigration Act

The 2000 bill (HR3650) ultimately garnered 106 co-sponsors.

The Nadler bill was not expected to gain as many co-signers as it received, however, it did not get a hearing, which meant it did not get a chance to be voted on, during the 1999-2000 congressional session.
      [See the original bill’s full text: Permanent Partners Immigration Act: Bill Text]

This same bill was reintroduced for 2001 under a new number HR690. It also did not get a hearing as the same House leadership was in place in 2001.

In February 13, 2003, the bill was re-introduced a third time in the House by Jerrold Nadler. On this occasion he said, “My bill is simply a matter of common sense and fairness. Why do we allow the government to tear apart committed and loving couples just because of who they love? The answer is that there is no excuse for this gratuitous cruelty, and my bill would correct that.”

On July 31, 2003, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., introduced a similar bill in the Senate to extend immigration benefits to same-sex couples. The bill, called the “Permanent Partners Immigration Act” (PPIA), sought to modify the federal Immigration and Nationality Act to provide same-sex partners of American citizens and lawful permanent residents the right to join their loved ones on U.S. soil.

“Our immigration laws treat gays and lesbians in committed relationships as second-class citizens, and that needs to change,” said Leahy, while introducing the Senate bill.

Permanent Partners Immigration Act - HR690
106 House co-sponsors and the date they signed on

Data from the U.S. government’s Web site: Bill Status - HR690

Rep. Abercrombie, Neil - 2/14/2001 [HI-1]
Rep. Ackerman, Gary L. - 2/14/2001 [NY-5]
Rep. Andrews, Robert E. - 3/21/2001 [NJ-1]
Rep. Baird, Brian - 3/12/2002 [WA-3]
Rep. Baldwin, Tammy - 2/14/2001 [WI-2]
Rep. Becerra, Xavier - 2/14/2001 [CA-30]
Rep. Berman, Howard L. - 2/14/2001 [CA-26]
Rep. Blumenauer, Earl - 2/28/2001 [OR-3]
Rep. Bonior, David E. - 7/11/2001 [MI-10]
Rep. Brady, Robert - 2/14/2001 [PA-1]
Rep. Brown, Sherrod - 2/14/2001 [OH-13]
Rep. Capuano, Michael E. - 2/14/2001 [MA-8]
Rep. Carson, Julia - 6/7/2001 [IN-10]
Rep. Clay, Wm. Lacy - 3/21/2001 [MO-1]
Rep. Clayton, Eva M. - 7/17/2001 [NC-1]
Rep. Coyne, William J. - 4/11/2002 [PA-14]
Rep. Crowley, Joseph - 2/14/2001 [NY-7]
Rep. Cummings, Elijah E. - 9/21/2001 [MD-7]
Rep. Davis, Danny K. - 2/14/2001 [IL-7]
Rep. DeFazio, Peter A. - 2/14/2001 [OR-4]
Rep. DeGette, Diana - 5/9/2001 [CO-1]
Rep. Delahunt, William D. - 2/14/2001 [MA-10]
Rep. DeLauro, Rosa L. - 3/8/2001 [CT-3]
Rep. Engel, Eliot L. - 2/28/2001 [NY-17]
Rep. Eshoo, Anna G. - 3/8/2001 [CA-14]
Rep. Evans, Lane - 3/8/2001 [IL-17]
Rep. Farr, Sam - 2/14/2001 [CA-17]
Rep. Fattah, Chaka - 9/5/2002 [PA-2]
Rep. Filner, Bob - 2/14/2001 [CA-50]
Rep. Frank, Barney - 2/14/2001 [MA-4]
Rep. Gutierrez, Luis V. - 2/14/2001 [IL-4]
Rep. Harman, Jane - 1/29/2002 [CA-36]
Rep. Hastings, Alcee L. - 3/21/2001 [FL-23]
Rep. Hinchey, Maurice D. - 2/28/2001 [NY-26]
Rep. Hoeffel, Joseph M. - 3/21/2001 [PA-13]
Rep. Holt, Rush D. - 2/14/2001 [NJ-12]
Rep. Honda, Michael M. - 3/8/2001 [CA-15]
Rep. Jackson, Jesse L., Jr. - 7/17/2001 [IL-2]
Rep. Jackson-Lee, Sheila - 6/26/2001 [TX-18]
Rep. Jefferson, William J. - 10/3/2002 [LA-2]
Rep. Jones, Stephanie Tubbs - 3/14/2002 [OH-11]
Rep. Kennedy, Patrick J. - 2/8/2002 [RI-1]
Rep. Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. - 7/26/2002 [MI-15]
Rep. Kolbe, Jim - 2/28/2001 [AZ-5]
Rep. Kucinich, Dennis J. - 2/28/2001 [OH-10]
Rep. LaFalce, John J. - 3/30/2001 [NY-29]
Rep. Langevin, James R. - 11/4/2002 [RI-2]
Rep. Lantos, Tom - 2/28/2001 [CA-12]
Rep. Larson, John B. - 2/14/2001 [CT-1]
Rep. Lee, Barbara - 2/14/2001 [CA-9]
Rep. Levin, Sander M. - 7/18/2002 [MI-12]
Rep. Lewis, John - 2/14/2001 [GA-5]
Rep. Lofgren, Zoe - 3/8/2001 [CA-16]

Rep. Lowey, Nita M. - 2/14/2001 [NY-18]
Rep. Maloney, Carolyn B. - 2/14/2001 [NY-14]
Rep. Maloney, James H. - 2/14/2001 [CT-5]
Rep. Markey, Edward J. - 4/26/2001 [MA-7]
Rep. Matsui, Robert T. - 3/8/2001 [CA-5]
Rep. McCarthy, Karen - 2/28/2001 [MO-5]
Rep. McCollum, Betty - 2/14/2001 [MN-4]
Rep. McDermott, Jim - 2/14/2001 [WA-7]
Rep. McGovern, James P. - 2/14/2001 [MA-3]
Rep. McKinney, Cynthia A. - 2/28/2001 [GA-4]
Rep. McNulty, Michael R. - 2/14/2001 [NY-21]
Rep. Meehan, Martin T. - 2/14/2001 [MA-5]
Rep. Meek, Carrie P. - 9/5/2002 [FL-17]
Rep. Miller, George - 3/8/2001 [CA-7]
Rep. Morella, Constance A. - 6/13/2002 [MD-8]
Rep. Napolitano, Grace F. - 11/14/2001 [CA-34]
Rep. Neal, Richard E. - 3/30/2001 [MA-2]
Rep. Norton, Eleanor Holmes - 2/14/2001 [DC]
Rep. Olver, John W. - 5/9/2001 [MA-1]
Rep. Owens, Major R. - 2/14/2001 [NY-11]
Rep. Pallone, Frank, Jr. - 5/17/2001 [NJ-6]
Rep. Pascrell, Bill, Jr. - 10/3/2002 [NJ-8]
Rep. Pastor, Ed - 2/28/2001 [AZ-2]
Rep. Payne, Donald M. - 10/3/2002 [NJ-10]
Rep. Pelosi, Nancy - 2/14/2001 [CA-8]
Rep. Rangel, Charles B. - 3/21/2001 [NY-15]
Rep. Rivers, Lynn N. - 2/14/2001 [MI-13]
Rep. Rothman, Steve R. - 9/5/2002 [NJ-9]
Rep. Roybal-Allard, Lucille - 2/14/2001 [CA-33]
Rep. Rush, Bobby L. - 3/21/2001 [IL-1]
Rep. Sabo, Martin Olav - 2/28/2001 [MN-5]
Rep. Sanchez, Loretta - 4/30/2002 [CA-46]
Rep. Sanders, Bernard - 2/14/2001 [VT]
Rep. Schakowsky, Janice D. - 2/14/2001 [IL-9]
Rep. Schiff, Adam B. - 11/13/2002 [CA-27]
Rep. Serrano, Jose E. - 2/28/2001 [NY-16]
Rep. Slaughter, Louise McIntosh - 3/30/2001 [NY-28]
Rep. Solis, Hilda L. - 6/21/2001 [CA-31]
Rep. Stark, Fortney Pete - 2/14/2001 [CA-13]
Rep. Tauscher, Ellen O. - 2/14/2001 [CA-10]
Rep. Thompson, Mike - 2/14/2002 [CA-1]
Rep. Tierney, John F. - 3/8/2001 [MA-6]
Rep. Towns, Edolphus - 2/14/2001 [NY-10]
Rep. Underwood, Robert A. - 8/2/2001 [GU]
Rep. Velazquez, Nydia M. - 3/8/2001 [NY-12]
Rep. Waters, Maxine - 11/29/2001 [CA-35]
Rep. Watson, Diane E. - 11/29/2001 [CA-32]
Rep. Waxman, Henry A. - 2/14/2001 [CA-29]
Rep. Weiner, Anthony D. - 2/14/2001 [NY-9]
Rep. Wexler, Robert - 2/14/2001 [FL-19]
Rep. Woolsey, Lynn C. - 2/14/2001 [CA-6]
Rep. Wu, David - 2/28/2001 [OR-1]
Rep. Wynn, Albert Russell - 11/13/2002 [MD-4]

Uniting American Families Act

The 2005 bill, “Uniting American Families Act”, gained 99 co-sponsors as of May 2006.

      [See the original bill’s full text: Uniting American Families Act: Bill Text]

Uniting American Families Act - HR3006
99 House co-sponsors and the date they signed on

Data from the U.S. government’s Web site: Bill Status - HR3006

Rep Abercrombie, Neil [HI-1] - 6/21/2005
Rep Allen, Thomas H. [ME-1] - 6/21/2005
Rep Andrews, Robert E. [NJ-1] - 6/21/2005
Rep Baird, Brian [WA-3] - 7/26/2005
Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] - 6/21/2005
Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] - 6/21/2005
Rep Berman, Howard L. [CA-28] - 6/21/2005
Rep Bishop, Timothy H. [NY-1] - 5/11/2006
Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] - 6/29/2005
Rep Brown, Corrine [FL-3] - 6/21/2005
Rep Brown, Sherrod [OH-13] - 6/21/2005
Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] - 6/21/2005
Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] - 6/21/2005
Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] - 6/29/2005
Rep Crowley, Joseph [NY-7] - 6/21/2005
Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7] - 5/11/2006
Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] - 9/28/2005
Rep DeGette, Diana [CO-1] - 7/26/2005
Rep Delahunt, William D. [MA-10] - 6/21/2005
Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. [CT-3] - 6/29/2005
Rep Doyle, Michael F. [PA-14] - 2/8/2006
Rep Emanuel, Rahm [IL-5] - 7/26/2005
Rep Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17] - 6/21/2005
Rep Eshoo, Anna G. [CA-14] - 6/21/2005
Rep Farr, Sam [CA-17] - 6/21/2005
Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2] - 11/10/2005
Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] - 6/21/2005
Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] - 6/21/2005
Rep Gonzalez, Charles A. [TX-20] - 6/21/2005
Rep Green, Al [TX-9] - 3/8/2006
Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] - 9/28/2005
Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. [IL-4] - 6/21/2005
Rep Harman, Jane [CA-36] - 6/21/2005
Rep Hastings, Alcee L. [FL-23] - 7/26/2005
Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] - 6/29/2005
Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] - 6/21/2005
Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-15] - 6/21/2005
Rep Hoyer, Steny H. [MD-5] - 12/22/2005
Rep Inslee, Jay [WA-1] - 6/21/2005
Rep Jackson, Jesse L., Jr. [IL-2] - 7/28/2005
Rep Jones, Stephanie Tubbs [OH-11] - 6/21/2005
Rep Kennedy, Patrick J. [RI-1] - 9/28/2005
Rep Kolbe, Jim [AZ-8] - 6/21/2005
Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10] - 6/21/2005
Rep Langevin, James R. [RI-2] - 7/26/2005
Rep Lantos, Tom [CA-12] - 6/21/2005
Rep Larson, John B. [CT-1] - 7/26/2005
Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] - 6/21/2005
Rep Levin, Sander M. [MI-12] - 6/29/2005
Rep Lewis, John [GA-5] - 6/21/2005

Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] - 7/26/2005
Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18] - 6/21/2005
Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] - 5/11/2006
Rep Markey, Edward J. [MA-7] - 7/26/2005
Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5] - 11/18/2005
Rep McCarthy, Carolyn [NY-4] - 11/18/2005
Rep McCollum, Betty [MN-4] - 11/3/2005
Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] - 6/21/2005
Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] - 2/8/2006
Rep McNulty, Michael R. [NY-21] - 6/21/2005
Rep Meek, Kendrick B. [FL-17] - 6/21/2005
Rep Menendez, Robert [NJ-13] - 6/21/2005
Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] - 6/21/2005
Rep Miller, Brad [NC-13] - 9/28/2005
Rep Miller, George [CA-7] - 6/21/2005
Rep Moore, Dennis [KS-3] - 6/21/2005
Rep Moore, Gwen [WI-4] - 12/22/2005
Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] - 6/21/2005
Rep Napolitano, Grace F. [CA-38] - 6/21/2005
Rep Neal, Richard E. [MA-2] - 7/26/2005
Rep Olver, John W. [MA-1] - 6/29/2005
Rep Owens, Major R. [NY-11] - 6/29/2005
Rep Pallone, Frank, Jr. [NJ-6] - 6/21/2005
Rep Pastor, Ed [AZ-4] - 6/21/2005
Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10] - 6/21/2005
Rep Pelosi, Nancy [CA-8] - 7/28/2005
Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] - 6/21/2005
Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9] - 6/21/2005
Rep Sabo, Martin Olav [MN-5] - 6/21/2005
Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39] - 6/21/2005
Rep Sanders, Bernard [VT] - 6/21/2005
Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] - 6/21/2005
Rep Schiff, Adam B. [CA-29] - 6/29/2005
Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16] - 6/21/2005
Rep Shays, Christopher [CT-4] - 5/11/2006
Rep Sherman, Brad [CA-27] - 6/21/2005
Rep Simmons, Rob [CT-2] - 6/21/2005
Rep Smith, Adam [WA-9] - 6/21/2005
Rep Solis, Hilda L. [CA-32] - 6/29/2005
Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] - 6/21/2005
Rep Tierney, John F. [MA-6] - 6/21/2005
Rep Udall, Mark [CO-2] - 5/11/2006
Rep Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [FL-20] - 11/18/2005
Rep Watson, Diane E. [CA-33] - 7/26/2005
Rep Waxman, Henry A. [CA-30] - 6/21/2005
Rep Weiner, Anthony D. [NY-9] - 6/21/2005
Rep Wexler, Robert [FL-19] - 11/10/2005
Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] - 6/21/2005
Rep Wu, David [OR-1] - 7/26/2005

Press Release from Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), June 21, 2005

Nadler Introduces LGBT Families Immigration Bill
Uniting American Families Act would extend to same-sex couples the same rights of immigration sponsorship enjoyed by opposite-sex couples

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) today introduced HR3006, the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), landmark legislation that would allow same-sex couples to sponsor their “permanent partners” for legal residency in the United States. This right is currently afforded to opposite-sex couples under U.S. immigration law.

Because the U.S. does not legally recognize same-sex couples and their children as families, many same-sex bi-national couples are torn apart when one partner lives in the United States.

“This is a matter of basic fairness and compassion,” Congressman Nadler said. “Our immigration code recognizes that it’s excessively cruel to keep couples and families apart, and the Uniting American Families Act would simply extend that recognition to same-sex couples.” Nadler was joined at an introduction press conference by representatives from the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT political organization, and Immigration Equality, an organization dedicated to pursuing fairness in immigration laws. Also present at the event were Steven and Olivier, a bi-national same-sex couple faced with the constant threat that their family of four will be split up or forced to leave the United States.

“Keeping loving families separated is gratuitous cruelty that serves no constructive purpose,” Nadler said. “This bill only demands that those people in same-sex permanent partnerships receive equal treatment as everyone else – not an iota more.”

The Uniting American Families Act would add the term “or permanent partner” to those sections of the Immigration and Naturalization Act that apply to legally married couples. For purposes of the bill, “permanent partner” is described as “an individual 18 years of age and over who: Is in a committed, intimate relationship with another individual 18 years of age and over in which both parties intend a lifelong commitment; Is financially interdependent with that other individual; Is not married or in a permanent partnership with anyone other than that other individual; Is unable to contract with that other individual a marriage cognizable under [the Immigration and Naturalization Act]; and Is not a first, second, or third degree blood relation of that other individual.”

UAFA will afford equal immigration benefits to permanent partnerships – but it will also apply the same restrictions and enforcement standards.

For example, if a person is found to have entered into a fraudulent permanent partnership for the purposes of obtaining a visa for another person, they will be subject to the same five year maximum imprisonment, or $250,000 maximum fine, or both, as a person who contracts a fraudulent marriage would. The bill also requires that bi-national couples provide ample proof that they meet the definition of “permanent partners.”

The bill has drawn considerable bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, attracting 53 cosponsors at the time of its introduction. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), introduced a companion bill in the Senate today with nine cosponsors.

At least 16 countries currently allow residents to sponsor same-sex permanent partners for legal immigration, including Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom.


Press Release from the American Bar Association
Division for Media Relations and Communication Services
February 18, 2009

ABA BACKS EQUALIZATION OF SAME SEX PARTNERSHIPS IN IMMIGRATION PROCESS

The American Bar Association is moving to encourage American immigration officials to treat same sex partners in the same manner as spouses when applying for permanent residency in the United States.

The ABA’s House of Delegates, a 555-member body of volunteer lawyers from across the country, approved the new ABA policy during its Midyear Meeting in Boston on Feb. 16. The policy calls for federal legislation enabling permanent legal residents of the United States to sponsor partners of the same sex for permanent residency.

Specifically, it reads:

“The American Bar Association supports the enactment of legislation and the implementation of public policy to enable a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident who: (1) shares a committed, intimate relationship with another adult individual of the same-sex; (2) is not married to or in any other legally recognized partnership with anyone other than that individual; and (3) is unable to enter into a marriage with that other individual that is cognizable under the Immigration and Nationality Act, to sponsor that individual for permanent residence in the United States.”

The background report noted that currently “…thousands of lesbian and gay bi-national couples and their children are kept apart, driven abroad, or forced to live in fear of being separated” and added, “this policy damages not only those families, but U.S. society generally.”

The policy and report is posted in full at:
      abanet.org/leadership/2009/midyear/recommendations/108.pdf


How You Can Help

It is very important for U.S. citizens to contact their representatives and tell them why an immigration bill is so desperately needed.

To send a message to your representative in the House, you may use the House’s Web site:
Write Your Representative
      www.house.gov/writerep
Related Partners Task Force Articles


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