Senate Talks LGBT Immigration

The Senate Judiciary Committee held the first congressional hearing on the Uniting American Families Act Wednesday. The act would allow gay citizens to sponsor their partners for residency in the United States.

BY Kerry Eleveld

June 03 2009 12:00 AM ET

Gordon Stewart, 48, testified to represent the many Americans who now live outside the United States in order to be with their partners. "I traveled to be with you today from London, where I work for Pfizer," he said. "Pfizer is a company that recognizes domestic partnership. Unfortunately, the U.S. government does not recognize Renato, my partner of more than nine years."

Before the hearing, Stewart explained how he had traveled 10 hours every other weekend for two years to visit his partner in Brazil. During that time, he said, "I was looking for a job with Pfizer in a country that would take both of us. Eventually, I found a position in the U.K. in March of 2005."

While Stewart is grateful that his employer of 14 years helped him find a solution to what he called "an impossible situation," he added, "I love my country, I love my family, and I think it is unfair that I have to choose between my partner and my family and the country that I love."

Also testifying in support of UAFA was Julian Bond, chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He noted that family sponsorship accounts for more than 85% of legal immigration in the U.S. and the system has not been updated in 20 years.

"For the most part, our nation's current immigration laws promote family unity," he said. "The NAACP would also like to stress that the definition of 'family' should not be interpreted so stringently as to omit people who are in a loving, committed relationship but happen to be of the same gender."

Two participants testified against the bill: Roy Beck of NumbersUSA and Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies.

Beck's organization opposes immigration as a matter of population growth across the board.

Tags: Politics

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