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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

U.S. Immigration Policy Discriminates against Same-Sex Partners

March 23, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Under current law, U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents can sponsor their spouses or fiancés for legal residency to the U.S.  However, gay and lesbian U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents cannot.

There are nearly 40,000 binational, same-sex couples living in the U.S., according to census data.  However, the current policy often tears these couples apart once the visa of one expires or forces many couples who do not want to be separated to leave the country.

In addition, many same-sex couples live apart because one partner is not permitted to live in or even travel to the United States.

Since 1965, the priority of U.S. immigration policy has been to make it possible for families to be reunited here in the U.S.  The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 ended earlier policies that prioritized immigrants from Europe and replaced them with a system that prioritized family immigration.

Since 1965, between 50 and 70 percent of the visas that have been given out have gone to family members of U.S. citizens and legal residents.

The Uniting American Families Act, introduced last month in Congress, would give gay and lesbian U.S. citizens and permanent residents the right to sponsor their foreign-born permanent partners for legal residency in the U.S. The act does not provide any other benefits and all other immigration requirements must be met.

Nineteen other countries have passed similar laws already.

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