Kate Kendell
Immigration Reform a Priority for Gay Couples and Their Kids

By Alex J Davidson

Originally published on Advocate.com October 08 2013 4:20 AM ET

First it was Syria. Now it’s the government shutdown. A string of pressing events has stolen attention away from what had been one of 2013’s most debated topics: immigration reform.

Although it’s not on the front burner, immigration reform is a key issue among same-sex couples raising kids. A report from the Williams Institute found that there are nearly 41,000 children being raised by same-sex couples that include a foreign-born spouse or partner.

The report, from earlier this year, also found the following:

- An estimated 33,500 foreign-born men and women who are part of a same-sex couple are raising children under age 18. Among noncitizens in same-sex couples, 41% have children, compared to 19% of naturalized citizens in same-sex couples.
- Same-sex couples with two foreign born partners are most likely to be raising children. Nearly six in 10 same-sex couples in which both spouses or partners are noncitizens are raising children, and the number of children is estimated at 12,400.

Kate Kendell, activist and executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, had a great op-ed in the October 1 San Francisco Chronicle where she talked about the need for comprehensive immigration reform, looping in how the stalled reform is harming LGBT people.

“We won’t live in the shadows in fear of being deported or detained,” she wrote. “As a lesbian, I’ll be there to say to the 267,000 of us who are undocumented and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender that the country we love shouldn’t make us live in two closets anymore.”

Among Kendell’s call for reforms is a provision that would “improve conditions for people held in detention, limit use of solitary confinement, and prohibit its use based solely on a detainee's sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In reference to youth raised in LGBT families, some of whom are part of the DREAM movement among young people to reform the U.S. immigration system, Kendell says a permanent solution is needed to avoid tearing families apart.

“It’s not enough to address the status of immigrant youth only, pretending they don’t have families and friends who must live on in fear,” she observed. “In fact, Dreamers, including the LGBT people who have helped lead their movement, have spoken out against a policy that legalizes them but deports their parents.”

Kendell’s op-ed came just days before a coordinated march Saturday that saw thousands of people turn out in 80 cities calling for changes to the U.S. immigration system.

 

Contact reporter ALEX DAVIDSON on Twitter at Twitter.com/adwildcat.