Senate hearings on immigration equality for LGBT Americans begin tomorrow

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UAFA HearingsStarting tomorrow the Senate Judiciary Committee lead by Senator Patick Leahy of VT will convene hearings on the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), which would allow gay and lesbian Americans to sponsor their permanent partners for residency in the United States. In a press release from Immigration Equality announcing the hearings:

“Every day, an estimated 36,000 binational couples, nearly half of whom are raising children, are facing separation, or already living separately, because our country refuses to treat them equally under the law,” said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality.  “These loving, committed families are faced with an untenable choice between the person they love and the country they love.  Many are forced to uproot their lives and leave their extended families, jobs and communities behind. It is long past time that Congress fixed our broken immigration system, including this pervasive discrimination against so many families. Senator Leahy’s hearing, coming just as President Obama and Congress prepare to address comprehensive immigration reform, is a step in the right direction.”

Wednesday’s hearing will feature Shirley Tan, a Filipina mother of 12-year-old twins from Pacifica, Calif., who is facing deportation despite having been with her partner for 23 years. Though Tan’s children and partner are American citizens, she cannot be sponsored for residency because her partner is female. Unless Congress takes action to pass UAFA, Tan will be forced to return to the Philippines.

Joining Tan as a witness will also be Gordon Stewart, a native of Vermont who was forced to sell his family’s farm and relocate to London to be with his partner, who is Brazilian. Stewart, who transferred his job with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals to the United Kingdom, has been welcomed in that country, where his partner received a visa to be with him. Under U.S. immigration law, his partner was unable to join him in the United States, and Stewart was forced to leave his family behind to be with the person he loves. Other witnesses include Julian Bond, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and attorney Christopher Nugent, who will represent the American Bar Association (ABA).

Inside, Looking Out will be covering the UAFA hearings tomorrow so check back for regular updates.

Post by ILO on 06/02/09 at 4:49 pm