November 17, 2010 at 4:09 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
A shot for UAFA in lame duck?

Recent comments from the Senate sponsor of comprehensive immigration reform legislation could indicate an opportunity for passage of a measure to protect bi-national same-sex couples in the United States by the end of this year.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) was quoted in USA Today on Monday as saying the White House is willing to consider comprehensive immigration reform legislation as part of the agenda for the lame duck session of Congress.

The legislation contains language similar to the Uniting American Families Act, which would enable LGBT Americans to sponsor their foreign same-sex partners for residency in the United States. An estimated 36,000 same-sex bi-national couples would be affected by the legislation.

“The White House is ready and willing, and we may be having another meeting with the White House very soon this week,” Menendez was quoted as saying.

Menendez reportedly said President Obama is willing to move forward “if there is bipartisan support” for comprehensive immigration reform.

Steve Ralls, spokesperson for Immigration Equality, said his organization plans to stand with Menendez to press for comprehensive immigration reform legislation before lawmakers adjourn at the end of the year.

“There’s a very short window of opportunity, but immigration reform is something that the White House has said would be a priority for them, that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other key leaders have said that they want to get done,” Ralls said.

Ralls noted that passage of the legislation would mark the first instance of recognition of LGBT families in federal law.

“This is an urgent issue for our community,” Ralls said. “Whether you’re in a bi-national family or not, this is also a real opportunity for Congress to provide federal recognition of LGBT families, which we’ve never had before.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • I hope the Democrats pass the Uniting American Familes Act in the lame-duck session as a part of their comprehensive immigration reform, but I am not holding my breath. They should have taken action on this bill months ago, along with passing the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act, which passed out of committees in both chambers more than ten months ago and is just waiting for a floor vote so it can be passed. Again, lets hope the Dems in the House bring both of these bills up for vote, because I think they can pass both bills there, its the senate that will be the problem for both bills, but who knows, maybe one of them can still get passed while they continue to put off the Repeal of DADT.

  • Please realize that the 36,000 estimate goes back to the findings of the 2000 census. It is believed that the number was higher even back then. Now it is believed that the number of same-sex binational couples in this country (and those who have had to leave the U.S. because they couldn’t sponsor their partner to live here with them) is nearer 90,000! Surely this alone is reason enough to deal with this issue?This bill had the most co-sponsors of any LGBT bill out there, so why did they not do something sooner?
    This is a equality issue, not an immigration one! Can you imagine a heterosexual American being told their relationship with the person they love is not considered valid, and so they cannot sponsor their partner for permanent residency here??? If you want to be with the one you love then you have to leave the country? Unimaginable!!!

    Pass UAFA now, and end this unconscionable cruelty now!!!

  • This makes me so angry. The Dems and orgs like IE and HRC dropped the ball big time on this bill. Now IE is supporting the DREAM act! What does the DREAM act have to do with the UAFA?

  • I cried on Nov 3rd – after knowing that the House was now under Republican control – as it killed all chances for the next 2 to 4 years of UAFA being considered, as a stand-alone bill, or as part of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
    In September, my former European Company had to downsize, and as a result I was let go. I was unable to find another job in Europe – and had to return back to the US – where I was able to secure employment. Unfortunately, neither of us are in an age in which we can live off retirement funds – we are still building them. My relationship of 7 years is now reduced to weekly video-conferences thru Skype….and daily text messages, and occasional phone calls.
    This is NOT fair, but rather CRUEL. It is a constant reminder that I am a SECOND CLASS citizen in my country, despite what the Constitution says.

    I have called my Senator and Congressman – their staff’s reply: “Immigration and Gay Issues are toxic at the moment, we don’t see this legislation moving forward”


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