A new report on
the U.S. immigration system shows that binational
same-sex couples are systematically discriminated against.
Although foreign-born partners of U.S. citizens in
heterosexual relationships, particularly
marriages, can legally enter the country relatively
easily, the report by Human Rights Watch and Immigration
Equality states that it is substantially more
difficult for foreign-born partners in same-sex
relationships to do so, forcing many of those couples to
separate or to live in exile in countries that are more welcoming.
There are more than 36,000 LGBT Americans with
partners who are foreign citizens, with an estimated
half of those couples raising children. Historically,
the goal of U.S. immigration policy was family
reunification, but many of these LGBT families are being
torn apart because they are not recognized equally
under current immigration law.
"No family should be forced apart no
matter what the sex is," a North Carolina woman, who
was compelled to leave the United States with her
Hungarian partner and their children, says in the report.
"This is how immigration laws have affected us. We are
separated and without each other.... We just want to
be together, that's all."
The report, released Tuesday in Washington,
D.C., makes several recommendations, including calling
on Congress to pass the Uniting American Families Act,
which would allow binational same-sex couples to be
recognized and treated exactly like opposite-sex couples. It
also recommends repealing the Defense of Marriage Act,
which prohibits gay and lesbian couples from marrying.
Worldwide there are 19 countries that offer
binational same-sex couples some form of immigration
benefits, including the United Kingdom, Australia, and
Israel. (The Advocate)