Saturday, July 30, 2005

CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?

I found this interesting story on www.immigrationequality.us. Please read about Jeremy and Shane below. Can you believe this shit? Why is a U.S. citizen being questioned in his own home about his banking and employment information? And when he flies back home to his own country, why is he is being pulled into a seperate room and being questioned? This is outrageous.

Bill to unite gay couples split by nationality Measure would allow U.S. citizens to sponsor partners
By ELIZABETH WEILL-GREENBERG Friday, July 01, 2005
Joanne, an illegal immigrant from Poland, fell in love with an American woman in 2003 when she was 21. When her family found out she was a lesbian, they threatened to have her deported.
The threat was made more frightening because American citizens and permanent residents cannot sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration benefits the way that straight married couples can. The Defense of Marriage Act prohibits gay couples from receiving the federal benefits of marriage, including immigration rights, even if they are legally married in Massachusetts, Canada or elsewhere.
But Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) recently introduced the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), formerly the Permanent Partners Immigration Act, to allow same-sex “permanent partners” to stay together.
Leahy and Nadler were not available for comment this week.
The bill would create the new “permanent partner” category for immigration purposes only. Same-sex couples would be subject to the same evaluations that straight couples go through to verify authenticity of a relationship.
The current immigration restrictions have forced many “bi-national” gay couples — where the partners are from different countries — to move outside the United States to one of the 16 countries that provide immigration benefits for same-sex couples.
Gay citizens of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom can sponsor their same-sex partner for citizenship.
But Joanne and her partner want to stay in the United States. After her family’s threat, they moved together to California, then back to New York, where they settled in Harlem. Joanne spoke to the Blade on the condition that her real name not be used.
Living in the shadowsJoanne’s status puts her at risk, like so many illegal immigrants, of exploitation and limited employment options. Employers won’t sponsor her because she doesn’t have enough years of training or education, she said.
When Joanne worked at a laundromat in New York for $6 an hour, her boss withheld a week’s pay when she told him she was quitting. She couldn’t protest because of the familiar threat of deportation.
“I basically don’t exist in this country,” she said.
For lower-income people like Joanne, the immigration restrictions on gays hit hardest, according to Adam Francoeur, program coordinator for Immigration Equality, a group that advocates on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered immigrants.
There are two ways to access the immigration system, through family or employment, he said. The family option is largely unavailable to same-sex couples, so that leaves them with employment, which carries training and education requirements, Francoeur explained.
“An immigration system without the family unification option can extremely favor higher income individuals,” he said.
Victoria Neilson, legal director of Immigration Equality, said the current laws rip families apart for no reason other than their sexual orientation. In fact, she said, having an American partner can be reason to deny a visa because foreign visitors have to show they do not intend to stay in the U.S. permanently.“It has a devastating impact on families,” she said.
The bill’s chances of passage are unlikely, its supporters say. It has been introduced every year since 2000 and has never come to a vote, although Francoeur said it enjoys bipartisan support.
Those who oppose the bill often say it is a backdoor to gay marriage, he said. Focus on the Family, a conservative group that usually opposes any pro-gay bills, was not available for comment.
Others have criticized the measure because they claim it would open the floodgates and allow too many people entry to the country, Francoeur said. There are about 36,000 bi-national gay couples living in the U.S. according to a 2000 census, he said.
Jack Martin, spokesperson for the conservative group Federation for American Immigration Reform, said his group would lean against the legislation if it increased the number of immigrants in the U.S.
“Current immigration is too large, therefore any change that would have the effect of increasing immigration we would probably oppose,” he said. “We haven’t taken any specific position with regard to the specific bill.”
‘Two tough hurdles’In today’s conservative Congress, the UAFA has the double obstacle of being pro-immigrant and pro-gay.
“It’s a pretty anti-immigrant Congress [and] a pretty anti-LGBT Congress,” Neilson said. “Two tough hurdles to overcome.”
The post-9/11 crackdown on immigrants has made it harder for bi-national same-sex couples. While some laws have stayed the same on paper, student and work visas of the type many gay couples use to stay together are now the subject of much closer scrutiny, said Francoeur. Also, employers are more reticent to sponsor foreign nationals.
“Extra scrutiny often leads to denial,” Francoeur said.
That is just what happened when Shane, a British citizen, tried to visit his partner, Jeremy, an American citizen, in Georgia. Shane spoke on the condition that the Blade not use his or his partner’s real name.
Frustrated by U.S. immigration rules, Shane and Jeremy moved to Britain in 2004 where they can establish permanent residency. After a same-sex couple lives together for two years, a British citizen can sponsor his partner, Shane said.
When they lived together in the U.S., Shane could only visit for 90 days at a time.
“For two years, I lived as a third-class citizen,” he said. “I could be taken away from [Jeremy] at any stage.”
Earlier this month on Jeremy’s trip to the U.S., he asked Shane to come visit him. Shane flew in to Atlanta and, to his shock, was denied entry. He was told that on a previous visit he overstayed by one day but was not provided more details, Shane said.
He had the choice between being held in a detention center until a flight was available or buying a $5,000 first-class ticket home, he said.
“I was searched, detained, fingerprinted, photographed, had my passport marked, and returned on the next flight back to the United Kingdom,” Shane wrote in a letter to an Atlanta newspaper.
The following day, two U.S. federal marshals went to Jeremy’s home, interviewed him and requested his banking and employment information, according to Shane. The next time Jeremy flew into the U.S., he was pulled into a second room and asked if he had “anti-American sentiments,” Shane said.
When asked how his experiences have influenced his opinion of the U.S., he said, “I’ve been really careful not to bash the country because my partner is American.”
However, he added, “It astonishes me the way America acts like the freest country. … We’ve struggled very hard just to stay together.”
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg can be reached at eweill-greenberg@washblade.com.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BILL GETS ROYAL ASSENT--BECOMES LAW ACROSS COUNTRY

I am proud to be able to say I am here to see this day! What a great day for Canadians. I still wonder where is the USA? Will they ever give their gay and lesbian citizens the same equality? Only time will tell.

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 20, 06:12 PM EDT
Same-sex marriage bill gets royal assent, becomes law across country
OTTAWA (CP) - Same-sex supporters are rejoicing as the final piece falls into place making gay marriage the law of the land.
Bill C-38, the controversial legislation legalizing gay and lesbian weddings, has been given royal assent, and is now law. Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin gave the Queen's consent to the bill on behalf of Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson, who is off-duty recovering from surgery.
Alex Munter with the group Canadians For Equal Marriage says he feels enormous pride at living in a country that puts equality and human rights at the centre of its law.
The Conservatives fought the legislation to the bitter end and still say they will bring it back to the Commons for another vote if they form government.
But Munter warns they would be punished by voters if they did.
The Canadian Press, 2005

Sunday, July 17, 2005

WHERE IS THE JUSTICE?

Marriage With Transsexual Upheld Under US Immigration Law
by Cyrus D. Mehta and Elizabeth T. Reichard The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has held that a marriage, where one of the parties is a postoperative transsexual, will be recognized for immigration purposes. In Matter of Lovo, 23 I&N Dec. 746 (BIA 2005), the BIA reversed the decision of the Nebraska Service Center (NSC) denying an I-130 petition that was filed by a US citizen spouse on behalf of a native and citizen of El Salvador. The petitioning spouse, a US citizen, was born in North Carolina and was a male at the time of birth. On September 14, 2001, the US citizen spouse underwent a surgery that changed her sex from male to female. She then married a citizen of El Salvador on September 1, 2002, in the state of North Carolina. North Carolina issued her a birth certificate reflecting her sex as a female and also recognized the marriage. She was also issued a driver’s license listing her current name and indicating that she was a female. The petitioner filed an I-130 petition to sponsor her El Salvadorian spouse for permanent residence. On August 3, 2004, the NSC issued a denial. The NSC denied the petition on grounds that there was no legal basis to recognize a change of sex so that a marriage between two persons born of the same sex can be recognized and that this marriage was considered valid for immigration purposes, even though it may have been recognized in the state of North Carolina. The BIA reversed the NSC’s decision by adopting a two-prong analysis to determine the validity of the marriage. First, whether the marriage was valid under the state law; and then whether the marriage qualifies under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The BIA examined that § 130A-118 of the General Statutes of North Carolina authorizes issuance of a new birth certificate when a individual has undergone sex reassignment surgery. Although another statute of North Carolina only authorizes a marriage between a male and a female, and not between the same sex, the fact that North Carolina recognized the petitioner’s change of sex from male to female, the BIA concluded that the marriage was valid under the laws of North Carolina. The BIA then analyzed whether the marriage was recognized under the INA. Although the Act has not defined the word “spouse,” the BIA referred to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was silent on the issue of how to define a marriage between two spouses where one is a transsexual. The DOMA was only explicit with regard to not giving federal recognition to a marriage between parties of the same sex. Indeed, the BIA noted that the failure of the DOMA to address this issue was the basis of the NSC director’s erroneous decision to deny the I-130 petition. The NSC director found that because Congress had not addressed the issue whether sex reassignment surgery serves to change an individual’s sex, there was no legal basis on which to recognize a change of sex for immigration purposes. The BIA then examined the legislative history of DOMA and did not find any evidence of the DOMA being enacted to invalidate a marriage involving a transsexual. The legislative history of DOMA did not mention the case of M.T. v. J.T., 355 A.2d 204 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1976) in the state of New Jersey involving the recognition of a marriage where one of the spouses was a transsexual. Thus, the BIA opined that Congress only intended to restrict marriages between persons of the same sex and there was no indication that the DOMA was meant to apply to a marriage involving a post-operative transsexual where the marriage is considered by the State. The BIA’s decision is an important one and goes a long way in recognizing marriages where one of the parties is a postoperative transsexual. In an earlier article (Mehta, The Status of Transsexuals Under U.S. Immigration Law,) we had criticized the US policy that was enunciated in a memorandum by William R. Yates on April 16, 2004. The Yates memo stated that the CIS shall not recognize the marriage, or intended marriage, between two individuals where one or both of the parties claim to have changed their sex. Indeed, the BIA decision rejects the Yates memo and shares some of the reasoning in our earlier article, especially with regard to the anomalous outcome that would result if such a marriage was not recognized for immigration purposes. We argued: Suppose a person born a woman goes through a sex reassignment surgery and becomes a man, and the state recognizes this gender change and provide a new birth certificate. If this individual were being sponsored under the employment-based immigrant category, CIS would have no problem in issuing a green card to this individual recognizing him as a man. If this man subsequently wishes to marry a foreign national woman and the state allows him to do so, CIS will not recognize such a marriage for purposes of conferring an immigration benefit to his foreign national spouse. CIS, for this purpose, would presumably still consider this individual to be a woman. Suppose this man (who was originally a woman and is still considered a woman by the CIS) wishes to marry another man, and this marriage takes place in Massachusetts that recognizes same-sex marriages. The CIS has previously articulated that it will not recognize same-sex marriage for immigration purposes; although in this example, the CIS should technically recognize the marriage because it considers this individual still a woman and not a man! Id. In light of this argument, Footnote 5 of the BIA’s decision is worth noting: “For example, the marriage of a postoperative male-to-female transsexual to a female in a State that recognizes marriages between opposite-sex and same-sex couples would be considered valid, not only under State law, but also under Federal law, because, under the DHS’s interpretation, the postoperative transsexual would still be considered a male, despite having the external genitalia of a female.” We welcome this decision as it will enable spouses to apply for permanent residency where one is a postoperative transsexual. We find the BIA’s reasoning consistent and appreciate that it acknowledges the contradictory analysis proffered by the Nebraska Service Center and William R. Yates. It sets forth a clear rule that defies neither state law nor federal law. As such, we are pleased that there is now a venue available so that a group of people – who have taken the steps to become their true sex – can obtain the immigration benefits available to others who enter into lawful marriages.

Where is the justice? Is this story to be believed? What impression do we get from this story? That a gay or lesbian citizen has to actually go through surgery to change their bodies to sponsor a partner or spouse. This is the heartless cruelty of the U.S. government in action. Many same-sex couples have been married legally elsewhere (mostly Massachusetts and Canada) and even though their marriage is recognized by their location, immigration officials will still deny them the right to sponsor their spouse. Yet here we have someone who has changed their sex and gained the right of sponsorship. Are the rights of transsexuals more important than gay or lesbians' rights? Is the concept of "one man, one woman" so important that a sex change is necessary to achieve equal treatment under immigration policy?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

THE SOLUTION FOR BINATIONAL COUPLES: THE UNITING AMERICAN FAMILIES ACT (UAFA)

The Solution: The U.S. Congress recently re-introduced a bill that would grant immigration benefits to the partners of gay and lesbian U.S. citizens.

What it is and what does it do: The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) formerly known the The Permanent Partners Immigration Act (PPIA) has been introduced every year since 2000. It would change the immigration law by inserting "permanent partner" in addition to "spouse". It is amazing at how only two words added to the immigration law would be able to change the lives of binational couples who are presently suffering under the cruel and heartless policies of the U.S. immigration policy.

Problem #1 We don't have to be geniuses to figure out that a bill like this will not pass with a Republican Congress and President even though they claim to be "compassionate". While there is nothing compassionate about separating families, these folks would not know what compassion was if it bit them in the ass. Apparently the goal is to get enough sponsors on the bill and when the time is right to get it passed.

Problem #2 It's called visibility stupid! The problem is nobody knows just how cruel and heartless the INS (excuse me, the Department of Homeland Security, or whatever name they are hiding behind these days) is. So if nobody knows what is going on, then they definitely don't know about any solutions. The key to getting this passed is letting people know about both the problem and the solution thus exerting pressure for change.

How can this change come about: Our stories need to be in the national spotlight and be treated as important as Karl Rove's email. The truth about how U.S. citizens are being forced to choose their country or their love needs to be exposed. Then change needs to be demanded. Only then will the cruelty end!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

THE FOLLY OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION














As gays and lesbians in Massachusetts achieved a small victory in the fight to gain equal rights, President Bush wasted no time in denouncing the ruling as the work of "activist judges" and renewed the call for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. This is the response of the leader of the free world. The call for a constitutional amendment has now led to a wave of anti-gay and unconstitutional amendments to state constitutions all over the U.S.

This call to slam the door in the faces of ordinary gay and lesbian American citizens is in fact an assult by right-wing and religious fanatics who want to take away our rights any way they can. And in fact the only way to achieve this goal-- is to change the U.S. Constitution.
Make no mistake about it these fanantics are not our friends and neither is President Bush. In fact, the judges who are ruling in favor of gay marriage are ruling based on state law and the U.S. Constitution in which gay citizens are clearly protected by the equal proctection clause.
So in effect what is Bush and all those like him saying--that one way or another even if it takes changing the U.S. Constitution they will deny gay Americans the rights they are clearly entitled to.
And lets not forget the previous resident of the White House and the signing of the DOMA-- a total farse in itself. After all what are we protecting marriage from--other citizens who only want to share the same loving committment as other citizens. So what these people are really saying is that "freedom and justice for all", does not include gay or lesbian citizens. It is the perfect example of American hypocracy. Aaah, democracy in action.

Even the vice-president's daughter who is a lesbian is being put into the closet like a dirty secret. So what does this say for the character of our highest leaders. How can our country and leaders expect loyalty and respect while at the same time they are fighting to deny the basic principal of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" which is enshrined in the Constitution?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

WHERE IS THE USA?

Many industrialized countries recognize same-sex relationships for immigration purposes. These include: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Isreal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, and the UK. My question is where is the USA--the leader of freedom? As these other countries recognize that their citizens hold value and worth, the U.S. continues to close the door on its own citizens. I have even heard that some gays and lesbians believe it is ok to close the door on its own. Well they had better realize that they can't be clamoring for their relationships to be recognized while some of their own are being denied the same recognition. Rights granted to some but not all is not true freedom! The climate in the U.S. today is to shut down the border--even if hurts some of its own.

Friday, July 08, 2005

New Blog For Binational Couples

I am new to blogs but I am going to give it a go. This blog is for same-sex binational couples where one partner is a United States citizen and the other partner is a foreign national. Binational couples in the U.S. are estimated to be over 35, 000. Immigration law in the U.S. does not offer any choices for same-sex couples. U.S. citizens are indeed being persecuted for who they choose to love. They government is forcing citizens to choose between their life partners and their country. This a forum for other binational couples to unite and share their views, frustration and stories.
cy