Topic >> Uniting American Families Act

Nadler: No DOMA repeal in 2010, instead focus on ENDA, DADT and UAFA

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Rep. Jerrold NadlerIn an interview with DC Agenda (formerly the Washington Blade), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) did not expect to take up his  “Respect for Marriage Act” until 2011, after other LGBT-focused legislation had been voted on, including the ENDA, DADT and UAFA.

“The Respect for Marriage Act comes up after that, maybe at the end of the next Congress, maybe afterward,” he [Nadler] said.

Nadler’s legislation would overturn DOMA, allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages. It also has a “certainty provision” that would allow same-sex couples to marry in one state and still receive federal benefits even if they move to another state where gay nuptials aren’t recognized.

In lieu of passage in this Congress, Nadler said the task for supporters is to find more co-sponsors for the bill. As of Tuesday, the bill had 105 co-sponsors. Nadler predicted support would grow.

“And I think if some of these other bills pass, it’ll become more — the idea becomes less avant garde,” he said.

Nadler also introduced the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) earlier this year, which would allow gays and lesbians to sponsor their foreign-born partners for citizenship, and is pushing for that legislation to be a part of larger immigration reform in 2010.

“I don’t know what the final comprehensive immigration reform will look like, but I remain optimistic that it will include lesbian and gay families,” he said.

In the event that comprehensive immigration reform legislation doesn’t include UAFA when it debuts, Nadler said he’s working on making sure there are votes in the House Judiciary Committee to amend the bill to include such a provision.

Nadler said he’s “hopeful” there will be enough votes for an amendment, but added “that’ll be a big fight, if necessary.”

“I haven’t taken any votes or whip counts or done any kind of that work, but certainly it will be something that we’ll have to work at and the gay community and everybody will have to be pressuring the individual members of the committee,” Nadler said. “A lot of the members of the committee, the Democratic members especially, say they’re very great friends with the gay community … and this’ll be an opportunity to show that they are, bar none.”

When asked if he would support immigration reform without a UAFA or similar provision, Nadler reponded “I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

So do we.

DOMA repeal introduced in Congress

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Nadler introduces Respect for Marriage ActCongressman Jerrold Nadler of New York introduced the “Respect For Marriage Act,” in the House today which seeks to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

At a Capitol Hill press conference, Nadler called the Respect for Marriage Act “the first step to overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and sending that ugly law into the history books where it belongs.”

“Our bill ensures that all married couples, including lawfully married same-sex couples, will have the same access to federal responsibilities and benefits, including critical programs like Social Security that are intended to ensure the stability and security of American families,” Nadler said.

The repeal legislation would only facilitate federal recognition of same-sex marriages — not civil unions or domestic partnerships. Additionally, the bill contains a “certainty provision” allowing married same-sex couples to receive the federal benefits of marriage even if they move to a state that doesn’t recognize their union.

Nadler said the task ahead in trying to overturn DOMA “is not easy” and that he expects opponents of repeal to try to keep DOMA on the books by “making false claims that our bill will force same-sex marriage on unwilling states.”

The bill has already garnered 90 co-sponsors, including Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo). Noticeably absent from the list is Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), who believes the bill is not achievable in the short term.

Video from today’s press conference below:

Earlier this year Nadler introduced the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which unfortunately has stalled pending larger immigration reform.

UAFA co-sponsor Rep. Jackie Speier questions strategy on passing same-sex immigration reform

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Rep. Jackie SpeierEarlier this week, Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-12) , a co-sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which would allow gays and lesbians to sponsor their foreign-born partners for citizenship, expressed her concerns about passing the bill as a part of larger immigration reform.

“By making the bill comprehensive it does muddy the waters,” said the freshman House member, who predicted “nothing will happen this year on immigration.”

Speier voiced her concerns about the strategy at a town hall meeting she held August 31 for the LGBT community in San Francisco. The northern most sections of Speier’s 12th Congressional District reach into portions of the city, including such LGBT-heavy neighborhoods as Glen Park, Diamond Heights, and Twin Peaks.

Since winning a special election to her seat last year, Speier has quickly moved to back several legislative efforts to win LGBT rights. The issue of immigration has been especially fraught for the Peninsula lawmaker, as several of her constituents who are binational same-sex couples have reached out to her for help with immigration issues.

Speier’s view seems to have changed since a town hall earlier this year, where she indicated “the only way that bill is going to get passed is if its part of a larger immigration reform measure.” In addition to the standalone act, UAFA compatible language also exists in the omnibus immigration reform bill called Reuniting Families Act, sponsored  by Congressman Mike Honda (CA-15).

In her short 16 months in Congress, Speier has proven herself to be a strong ally and advocate for the LGBT community, and was instrumental in staying the deportation of a lesbian mother this past spring.

California Assembly holds hearing on resolution supporting UAFA

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Uniting American Families ActThe California Assembly held a hearing today on resolution ARJ 15 which urges Congress and the President to pass the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), which would allow gays and lesbians to sponsor their foreign-born partners, providing a legal path to citizenship. The bill, authored Assembly Member Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), in part says:

This resolution urges Congress to support the removal of legal barriers to immigration that affect permanent same-sex partners in binational relationships. Specifically, the resolution calls on Congress either to include the Reuniting Families Act, which incorporates the Uniting American Families Act, in comprehensive immigration reform, or to pass the Uniting American Families Act on its own as stand-alone legislation. In support of the measure, the author writes:

The federal Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to add same-sex “permanent partners” to the list of family members that a U.S. citizen or legal resident could sponsor for immigration.

Since current law does not allow gay and lesbian Americans and permanent residents to sponsor their foreign-born partners for legal residency, they cannot access the family immigration system for green cards and immigrant visas. Because of this inequity, thousands of lesbian and gay bi-national couples are kept apart, torn apart, or forced to stay together illegally, with one partner living in constant fear of deportation.

ARJ 15 is co-sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality (AACRE). Melanie Nathan, human rights attorney, Amos Lim, co-founder of Out4Immigration, Gina Caprio who is unable to sponsor her British partner, and representatives from EQCA and AACRE will be providing testimony.

The bill is opposed by Capital Resource Family Impact, which believes UAFA undermines the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).