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Hispanic caucus seeks UAFA-inclusive immigration reform

Protections for same-sex couples No. 2 on set of principles

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Luis Gutierrez, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade
Luis Gutierrez, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade

Luis Gutierrez is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and has endorsed a UAFA-inclusive immigration reform (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The caucus on Capitol Hill for lawmakers of Hispanic descent has unveiled a set of principles for what it wants to see as part of comprehensive immigration reform and included protections for bi-national same-sex couples as the No. 2 item on its list.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus made public on Wednesday a nine-item list of principles for comprehensive legislation titled, “One Nation: Principles on Immigration Reform & Our Commitment to the American Dream.” The second item on the list makes a direct reference to same-sex couples, saying the caucus is committed to reform that:

2. Protects the unity and sanctity of the family, including the families of bi-national, same-sex couples, by reducing the family backlogs and keeping spouses, parents, and children together;

Bi-national same-sex couples face potential separation under current immigration law. Unlike straight Americans with foreign-born spouses, gay Americans are unable to sponsor their foreign partners for residency in the United States. Standalone legislation that would address this issue is known as the Uniting American Families Act.

The Obama administration has taken steps to address this issue, but nothing has been codified into law. Just last month, the Department of Homeland Security issued guidance stipulating immigration officers should consider “long-term, same-sex partners” as families when considering whether to exercise prosecutorial discretion in the potential deportation of an undocumented immigrant.

Other items on the list from the caucus include requiring the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country to register with the U.S. government, learn English and pay taxes as well as providing a path to citizenship to young, undocumented immigrations pursuing a college education or military service such as those who would eligible under the DREAM Act.

“Our immigration laws ought to reflect both our interests and our values as Americans and we believe these principles are consistent with our nation’s commitment to fairness and equality,” the document concludes. “We commit to adhering to the above principles as we negotiate on behalf of all Americans in good faith with both parties and all stakeholders in the immigration reform debate.”

Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, said the inclusion of same-sex couples in these principles is important because CHC will be instrumental in crafting immigration reform.

“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s commitment to lesbian and gay families sets the baseline for what comprehensive immigration reform must include,” Tiven said. “The LGBT community will bring our energy and our power at the ballot box to the fight for fair and inclusive reform. We salute Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Senator Robert Menendez and the entire Hispanic Caucus for their leadership in outlining an inclusive vision of what that reform will look like.”

Gutierrez, an advocate for immigration community, has previously endorsed the idea of including bi-national couples in immigration reform. Menendez included a provision for gay couples in versions of reform that he previously introduced in the Senate during the 111th and 112th Congresses.

Talks have renewed on Capitol Hill about being able to come to an agreement on comprehensive immigration reform in the wake of Election Day results. It remains to be seen whether any version of immigration reform — LGBT-inclusive or otherwise — will be able to pass the Republican-controlled House in the 113th Congress.

UPDATE: A White House official provided a statement via email in response to the CHC’s inclusion of same-sex couples in its principles for comprehensive immigration reform.

“The President has long believed that Americans with same-sex partners from other countries should not be faced with the painful choice between staying with the person they love or staying in the country they love, and he welcomes changes that would help keep families together,” the official said.

 

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. frank burns

    November 29, 2012 at 9:12 am

    I think amnesty is in order for the American people. When immigrants were needed during the economic upswing we opened our doors on a handshake agreement, never actually granting their full papers, but they knew they could come, work, and start a life here. Then, during the downswing we suddenly pointed our collective finger and yelled things like “illegal” and “SLIME”. Of course it reeks of underhandedness, since even a handshake agreement is valid, and when someone comes in on a deal like we offered, starts a life and contributes, they can hardly be asked on a whim to leave the country. But I think the American people should not be condemned for this. Their leaders are also hypocritical, and most of them know not what they do. So I say, grant them amnesty.

  2. Dave Francis

    December 1, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    As far as I am concerned President Obama’s leading ranks of voters were the majority of those who are classed as “Freeloaders’”? Not the elderly, not the handicapped or infirm, but those who have learned to play the welfare system. They are also the people who think adding to the most incredulous deficit Washington has ever wrought, with Obama striding out the most insane definition of a free ride for everybody. One of Obama’s plans placed before the Republicans today was a blank check, to continuing the spending disaster.We cannot even pay the advancing U.S. treasury bills, let alone more additional trillions of dollars this administration has in mind. Yet this Congress could do much more, such as restricting illegal aliens with children literary stealing 4.2 Billion dollars annually in child tax credits and the IRS completely ignoring such outlandish behavior. In that this year alone illegal alien families could benefit under the “ADDITIONAL CHILD CREDIT” loophole for the sum of 7.4 Billion, even when in many occasions the child or children live outside the jurisdiction of the United States. “Citizens against Government Waste” a non-profit research organization have pinpointed hundreds of billions of dollars in overlapping agencies in government, both doing the same thing and many other wasteful taxpayer dollars going down the proverbial government drain. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AR) co-sponsored a bill earlier this year to bar illegal immigrants from receiving tax credits, but the bill was blocked from reaching the floor by Nevada Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

    WE WOULD NEVER HAVE HAD THIS PROBLEM OF ETHNIC MAJORITY DEMOGRAPHICS, IF OUR IMMIGRATION LAWS WAS ENFORCED AT THE BORDERS, INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TERMINALS AND OTHER PORTS OF ENTRY?

    Yet President Obama wants even more money from hardworking taxpayers. Instead of pandering to illegal aliens—not legal immigrants or permanent residents, his Socialist party and the Republicans as well should vote into law “THE LEGAL WORKFORCE BILL” However this electronic business employment verification program should be unilateral between parties, it should shuffle illegal aliens out of the limited job market? The GOP just voted for more visas for high skilled workers of the STEM Variety (Scientists, Technology, Engineers and Math) So American taxpayers should lean on the Democrats and Republicans to revise the 2006 Secure Fence Act, but complete the circuit by making it a felony to enter this sovereign country. American taxpayers should demand both the Legal Workforce Act and the Birthright Citizenship bill, we will not only discourage further invasion from foreign countries, but will inhibit another need for a DREAM ACT in our future. As for a labor shortage in the field, it should be orderly and heavily regulated and absconders who came here for Agjobs, who run off should be heavily held accountable, including the visitor visor overstays who must be tracked. It will also send a signal to people across the globe, that they are not welcome here illegally anymore and we are not going to distribute welfare to them.

    As an additional impediment we the American People should be demanding passage of the “Birthright Citizenship Bill” so that pregnant illegal alien mothers cannot take advantage of our public entitlement programs unless one parent is already a U.S. citizen. No baby or young child cannot be given a free U.S. citizenship unless this rule is verified.. This unrealistic law was originally for the emancipation of slaves at the end of the civil war and hasn’t been adapted for this century and costs American taxpayers $113 billion dollars. Its ill conceived when citizens are the homeless and living on our dangerous streets and illegal aliens can collect welfare payments for babies and low income housing. Entitlements for the illegal poor have sky rocketed, as well as the human parasites that live amongst us feeding of our taxes. Just judge California’s “open Door” policy mess of a growing huge deficit. Of course people who can get something for nothing, is going to vote for the “entitlement” President that has allowed his czars to give out “food stamps” like candy and free cell phones.

    A few prudent taxpayers are ignored, but if we approach the feds and state politicians in mass, they had better start listening to the core. We can no longer accept paying for shirkers, the spongers and illegal aliens or anybody who threaten this great counties prosperity?

    From Stephen Frank website at California News & Views on 11/30/2012.

    California is in a Depression. Some are trying to make believe massive Federal and State tax increases, unions; illegal aliens a non happening to the “recovery”. “Over the past decade, the state has lost ground in employment and taxable income to economic rivals, especially Texas. Internal Revenue Service data show that California lost more than $4 billion in personal income to Texas from 2000 to 2010. Nevada netted more than $5.6 billion at California’s expense. Arizona gained nearly $5 billion. For a state that depends heavily on the personal income tax, these losses are significant. They also point to broader problems in the state’s business climate. People tend to move mainly for economic reasons, such as jobs or cost of living.”.

    IF YOU WANT THE TRUTH OF THE CHAOS THIS COUNTRY IS IN, DON”T EXPECT THE LEVEL TRUTH FROM THE MAINSTREAM LIBERAL PROGRESSIVE PRESS OR MEDIA. DELVE INTO THE INTERNET, BECAUSE THE REAL FACTS ARE AVAILABLE?

  3. violet

    December 17, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    This comprehensive immigration reform will get pushed down Americans throats, American really are not going to have any say so about it, and all that bull about it being good for America, is a bunch of crap, it will get in the way of a lot of Americans trying to progress or succeed in their own country, because Americans will always be in a terrible competition with illegal aliens who had gotten amnesty or legalization, because they will be in the way of many Americans in getting jobs! all this excuse about illegal aliens being so separated from their relatives, is just an excuse to soften the blow, This who illegal immigration in America, now are just riding on the backs of illegal aliens children just to get their way! How many other immigrants who are here, and are separated from families, must every one who have families in other countries, try and get all their relatives here into America also? should they come here just to visit and have children born through our American birthright, to get an instant American citizenship to help them stay here too?

    This massive illegal immigration is nothing but big trouble for America it does nothing but turn American into another country, it will be a terrible change for Americans! Americans will get no priority
    either, illegal aliens who gotten amnesty or legalization will be first in lines to millions of our jobs, while Americans are in the back of the line..

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National

U.S. Catholic theologians call for LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections

Joint statement says church teachings support equality

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More than 750 of the nation’s leading Catholic theologians, church leaders, scholars, educators, and writers released a joint statement on Sept. 14 expressing strong support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.

The six-page theological statement, “A Home for All: A Catholic Call for LGBTQ Non-Discrimination,” was scheduled to be published along with the names of its 759 signatories as a four-page advertisement on Sept. 17 in the National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper widely read by Catholic clergy and laypeople.

The statement was initiated by New Ways Ministry, a Mount Rainier, Md., based Catholic group that advocates for equality for LGBTQ people within the church and society at large.

“As Catholic theologians, scholars, church leaders, writers, and ministers, we affirm that Catholic teaching presents a positive case for ending discrimination against LGBTQ people,” the statement says. “We affirm the Second Vatican Council’s demand that ‘any kind of social or cultural discrimination…must be curbed and eradicated,’” it says.

“We affirm that Catholic teaching should not be used to further oppress LGBTQ people by denying rights rooted in their inherent human dignity and in the church’s call for social equality,” the statement adds.

The statement notes that its signers recognize that a “great debate” is currently taking place within the Catholic Church about whether same-gender relationships and transgender identities should be condoned or supported.

“That is a vital discussion for the future of Catholicism, and one to which we are whole-heartedly committed,” the statement continues. “What we are saying in this statement, however, is relatively independent of that debate, and the endorsers of this statement may hold varied, and even opposing, opinions on sexual and gender matters,” it says.

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministries executive director, said his organization and the signers of the statement feel the issue of nondiscrimination for LGBTQ people can and should be supported by Catholic leaders and the church itself even if some are not yet ready to support same-sex marriage and sexual and gender identity matters.

“LGBTQ non-discrimination is being debated at all levels in our society, and the Catholic perspective on this is often misrepresented, even by some church leaders,” DeBernardo said. “Catholics who have studied and reflected deeply on this topic agree that non-discrimination is the most authentic Catholic position,” he said. 

DeBernardo said those who helped draft the statement decided it would be best to limit it to a theological appeal and argument for LGBTQ equality and non-discrimination and not to call for passage of specific legislation such as the Equality Act, the national LGBTQ civil rights bill pending in the U.S. Congress.

The Equality Act calls for amending existing federal civil rights laws to add nondiscrimination language protecting LGBTQ people in areas such as employment, housing, and public accommodations. The U.S. House approved the legislation, but the Senate has yet to act on it.

“We wanted this to be a theological statement, not a political statement,” DeBernardo said.

He said organizers of the project to prepare the statement plan to send it, among other places, to the Vatican in Rome and to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has expressed opposition to the Equality Act.

Among the key signers of the statement were 242 administrators, faculty, and staff from Sacred Heart University, a Catholic college in Bridgeport, Conn. New Ways Ministries says the statement was circulated by the school’s administration and eight of its top leaders, including President John Petillo, are among the signers.

Some of the prominent writers who signed the statement include Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking;” Richard Rodriquez, author of “Hunger of Memory;” Gary Wills, author of “Lincoln at Gettysburg;” and Gregory Maguire, author of “Wicked.”

The full text of the statement and its list of signatories can be accessed at the New Ways Ministry website.

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Activists reflect on Black Trans Lives Matter movement resurgence

Blade speaks with Alex Santiago, Jasmyne Cannick

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An I Am Human Foundation billboard along Atlanta's Downtown Connector expressway on Feb. 22, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The world came to a standstill last year as a video surfaced online that showed then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd. The video went viral and sparked numerous protests against racism and police brutality in the U.S. and around the world as many people felt it a potent time to relay their frustrations with and to their governments.

For the LGBTQ community, these protests brought to light the need for human rights for transgender individuals as the murders of people like Tony McDade in Florida and Nina Pop in Missouri reawakened the flame within the Black Trans Lives Matter movement.

A tribute to Tony McDade in downtown Asheville, N.C., in June 2020. McDade was a Black transgender man who was shot and killed by a white police officer in Tallahassee, Fla., on May 27, 2020. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Washington Blade more than a year later spoke with Alex Santiago, executive director of the I Am Human Foundation in Atlanta, and Jasmyne Cannick, a Democratic political strategist and journalist in Los Angeles, to reflect on last year’s Black Trans Lives Matter movement, how far it has come, and what’s in store for the future. 

Uplifting voices often silenced

Participating in the Black Lives Matter protests was an easy decision for Santiago. He is a member of the Legendary House of Garcon, a ballroom house headquartered in D.C. 

Although the house is composed mostly of LGBTQ members, Santiago still felt the need to center trans voices and experiences by visually representing them during Black Lives Matter marches. 

“[I decided that] when I go I’m going to have signs that say ‘Black Trans Lives Matter.’ After talking to a couple of the people in the house, they said it was a great idea. So, they got these t-shirts made that incorporated the trans colors [baby blue, baby pink and white],” says Santiago.

Out of the 250 people in the Legendary House of Garcon, 175 showed up to D.C. from other states to march in solidarity with Black trans people. Santiago says that from what he was told, his was the largest group of activists representing Black trans lives at protests. 

“At first I thought people were going to look at us crazy, like, ‘Why are you separating yourselves or being exclusive?’. But, we got a great response from the general population that was there that day. It was a good day,” says Santiago.

Cannick, who was in Los Angeles during the protests, lent her efforts to platforming pertinent issues. She identifies herself as an ally and a “friend” to the LGBTQ community. 

“I’m active in the LA community and everybody knows me. So, whenever something happens, someone is hurt, someone is killed or someone needs to get the word out about something that’s going on particularly as it relates to the trans community, I’m always asked to get involved, and I do,” says Cannick. 

Over the past year, she reported on multiple LGBTQ issues including the trial of Ed Buck, a Democratic political fundraiser who was convicted in the deaths of two gay Black men who he injected with methamphetamine in exchange for sex.

What happened to the BTLM movement and what needs to change?

The nature of many social movements is that as the intense emotion surrounding them fades, people’s fervor for change wanes as well. This is especially true with allies who are not directly linked to the cause.

“Fatigue and frustration at the relatively slow pace of change to a growing backlash on the right against efforts to call out systemic racism and white privilege — has led to a decline in white support for the Black Lives Matter movement since last spring, when white support for social justice was at its peak,” US News reports about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Cannick believes this is the same for the Black Trans Lives Matter movement. She says Americans allow the media to dictate how it behaves and responds to issues. Thus, when stories “fall out of our media cycles … they fall out of our memories.”

“I think that’s not going to change, and that’s a psychological thing, until we learn how to not let the media necessarily dictate our issues,” says Cannick. 

She suggests that individuals remain plugged into their communities by “doing anything to make sure they keep up with an issue” including following the “right people” on social media and setting up Google alerts for any breaking news. 

Jasmyne Cannick (Photo courtesy of Jasmyne Cannick)

Santiago also echoes Cannick’s sentiments. 

“We wait until something happens before we do something. And, I don’t want to be retroactive; I want to be proactive. I want people to see me when things are going well [and when they’re not going well],” says Santiago. 

Upon returning to his home in Atlanta after the D.C. protests, Santiago contacted a billboard installation company and paid for a billboard labelled, “Black Trans Lives Matter” to be displayed on University Avenue near downtown Atlanta. He says that the billboards got attention and helped to spread much-needed awareness. Following this success, he is now in the process of installing a new billboard labelled, “Black, Trans and Visible. My life Matters.”

“Unless you’re in people’s faces or something drastic happens, people forget. Unless you’re living it, people forget,” says Santiago.

As time progresses, both Santiago and Cannick nest hope for the Black Trans Lives Matter movement. However, this hope can only persist when crucial steps are taken to ensure Black trans individuals around the country are protected, most importantly through legislation.

The New York Times reports there are close to 1,000 elected LGBTQ officials in the U.S., with at least one in each state except Mississippi. 

“We need to have more legislation. We need more voices in power like the council Biden has right now,” says Santiago. 

“You know that [Biden] has a lot of trans people and Black trans people [involved], and a part of that’s a positive step in the right direction, but we need that times 10,” says Santiago.

He believes that political representation should extend to local governance where ordinary Black trans individuals can be trained to assume leadership roles. 

Cannick’s focus is on the Black community. 

“[Trans women] are usually murdered by Black men. If we ever expect that to change, we need to start talking about that,” says Cannick.

She’s open to having conversations that put people, including her as a cis-identifying woman, in uncomfortable and awkward spaces. 

She hosts a podcast titled “Str8 No Chaser” and recently aired an episode, “Why Are Black Men Killing Trans Women,” where she discussed with three Black trans women about the gender and sexuality dynamics within the Black community and their perils. 

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Evangelical Lutheran Church installs first Trans prelate

The bishop will lead one of the church’s 65 synods, overseeing nearly 200 congregations in Northern California and northern Nevada.

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The Rev. Megan Rohrer (Photo Credit: Vince Donovan)

SAN FRANCISCO – The Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer was installed as the first openly transgender bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on Saturday, in services held at the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. The presiding bishop of the ELCA, Elizabeth Eaton, led the installation ceremony.

“My call is to be up to the same messy, loving things I was up to before,” Rohrer told those gathered in the cathedral. “But mostly, if you’ll let me, and I think you will, my hope is to love you and beyond that, to love what you love.”

The bishop will lead one of the church’s 65 synods, overseeing nearly 200 congregations in Northern California and northern Nevada.

Rohrer, who uses the pronouns they/them, was elected to serve as bishop after the retirement of their predecessor. The Sioux Falls, South Dakota native had moved to the Golden State to pursue master and doctoral degrees at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. In 2010, they became one of seven openly out LGBTQ pastors accepted by the Evangelical Lutheran church after it allowed ordination of pastors in same-sex relationships.

The bishop and their spouse are raising two children and prior to installation, Rohrer was pastor of the Grace Lutheran Church and served as a chaplain coordinator for the city of San Francisco’s police department. Rohrer has assisted in ministering to the city’s homeless and LGTBQ community for a number of years.

“I step into this role because a diverse community of Lutherans in Northern California and Nevada prayerfully and thoughtfully voted to do a historic thing,” Rohrer said in a statement. “My installation will celebrate all that is possible when we trust God to shepherd us forward.”

The synod Rohrer leads is part of the largest Christian denominations in the United States with about 3.3 million members.

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