The Permanent Partners Immigration Act, introduced by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) in the U.S. House of Representatives in each of the last three sessions, now has a companion in the U.S. Senate. The legislation, introduced July 31 by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), would extend benefits enjoyed by legally married couples under U.S. immigration law to gay and lesbian couples in permanent partnerships. "The Permanent Partners Immigration Act would revise current immigration laws that do not include gay and lesbian couples in the definition of the family," Nadler said Friday. "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 this bill would correct that."
The most prominent feature of the immigration bill would allow United States citizens who are in a permanent partnership with a lawful permanent resident to sponsor their partners for immigration purposes, just as any legal spouse would. Because there is no legally recognized marriage between gay and lesbian couples under current immigration law, many binational permanent partnerships are torn apart when one partner moves to the United States and the other is not allowed to. "This bill demands that people in same-sex partnerships receive equal treatment to those who can get legally married," Nadler said. "It is simply a matter of fairness."