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Tiven: Gay couples will not ‘be included’ in immigration reform bill

Immigration Equality executive director spoke two days before immigration reform march



Rachel Tiven, Immigration Equality, gay news, Washington Blade
Rachel Tiven, Immigration Equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Executive Director of Immigration Equality Rachel Tiven took part in immigration talks at the White House (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Immigration Equality Executive Director Rachel Tiven on Monday said she does not expect same-sex couples will be included in the comprehensive immigration reform bill a bi-partisan group of senators could potentially introduce by the end of the week.

“We are not expecting LGBT families to be included in the Gang of 8 bill,” she told the Washington Blade during a conference call ahead of a rally in support of comprehensive immigration reform on Wednesday that is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to the U.S. Capitol. “That in our minds means that of course the bill is incomplete.”

Tiven’s comments come roughly three months after President Obama publicly unveiled an immigration reform proposal that includes bi-national gay couples. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in February told the Senate Judiciary Committee the White House supports a provision that would allow gays and lesbians to sponsor their foreign-born partners for immigration purposes.

New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler on Feb. 5 introduced the bill in the House of Representatives with U.S. Reps. Charles Dent (R-Pa.) and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) as co-sponsors. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif,) House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.,) Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez and U.S. Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.,) David Cicilline (D-R.I.,) Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.,) Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.,) Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.) are among those who support UAFA.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy a few days later announced he reintroduced UAFA in his chamber with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) as a co-sponsor.

Nadler acknowledged to the Blade on Monday “it appears unlikely that the Senate’s initial immigration text” will include LGBT-specific language.

“This is disappointing but not particularly surprising,” he said.

Tiven said she remains hopeful members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will revisit the issue once they begin to debate the “Gang of 8” bill.

“We expect and we hope that senators on the committee will allow a full and open amendment process that provides an opportunity to fix the flaws in the base bill of which the exclusion of Uniting American Families Act is one,” she said.

Nadler took a similar tone as he expressed Leahy’s efforts to include UAFA as an amendment to the bill in committee before it reaches the Senate floor.

“I will fight like hell to ensure that LGBT-inclusive language remains in any House and Senate conference report,” Nadler told the Blade. “The ultimate goal is, of course, not how we pass LGBT-inclusive immigration reform, but that we make certain that such a bill lands on the president’s desk.”

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  1. drspiteri

    April 8, 2013 at 9:06 pm


  2. Melanie Nathan

    April 8, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Remember Rachel Tiven circa 2009 – momentum from UAFA hearings? I told you all at Immigration Equality that this would happen. I have the articles to prove it! And the e-mails! And the comments that you refused to allow on your site. I told you that if you took the CIR route instead of going all out on UAFA as a stand alone Biol all those years ago, during the lame duck, that gays would be thrown under the bus? I was right! I would not be rubbing your faces in it if it were not for DOMA’s impending doom!

    I wrote about it endlessly as a failed strategy and no one would listen. Immigration Equality, the self serving organization that has done nothing to help gay binational couples and even gay refugees. IE is a glorified referral service and nothing more. It is officially a failed organization for binationals and thank G-d we can now depend on DOMA. Thanks for nothing Rachel Tiven. And to HRC and all those who allowed IE to take control. Your strategy failed and you were warned. Hope you enjoyed the fundraising on the backs of others who did all the work – those who at least did something to take risks, when you said you could NOT and it could not be done!

  3. Mike Fromla

    April 9, 2013 at 1:44 am

    Typical BULLSHIT from the US Federal Government, BUT what do you expect!

  4. Emma Ridley

    April 9, 2013 at 1:59 am

    So does that mean even if DOMA is overturned binational couples still wont be to sponsor their Husband/Wifes for a green card?

    • Michelle Bradley

      April 9, 2013 at 2:11 am

      My guess is if DOMA is overturned.. a married couple is a married couple is a married couple and if they apply the law to hetero married couples, they would also have to apply it to SS couples.

    • Emma Ridley

      April 9, 2013 at 2:16 am

      Thank you for taking the time to answer :) Hope you are right!

    • Mary Mulholland

      April 9, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      no if DOMA is overturned SS couples can apply for Green Card

    • Brian

      April 9, 2013 at 11:47 am

      It’s my understanding Emma that as long as the marriage is legal in the place it was performed (not civil unions, or simply being together) that immigration will see those as legal marriages just as a heterosexual bi-national marriage. This is assuming that Section 3 of DOMA is found unconstitutional. So basically, if you can’t marry the person legally in your or thier country then it won’t be recognized.

  5. Mikal Eskada

    April 9, 2013 at 5:28 am

    This worries me alot, I bought the ring to surprise my fiancé…now I won't get to marry him and live with him in the us? This is scary

  6. Mary Mulholland

    April 9, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Well Given if that is how you are thinking get out there and make sure we are included.

  7. Frank

    April 9, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Have you ever wondered how you could help those who are less fortunate than you?

  8. Robert samija

    April 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I am a gay man in bi national relationship
    Used to donate and raise money for ie
    All I can say that after momentum was lost in 2009
    I realized that ie was taking us nowhere so I moved out to be with my partner

    IE and its leadership really thrown us under the bus

  9. Derek Williams

    April 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Republican = Anti-Gay

    If they could shoot us dead legally they would, with help from their fuckbuddies, the NRA.

  10. Marc Paige

    April 9, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Every time I think the Republicans, maybe, are changing, they prove once again that they are the party of bigotry!

  11. Michael Holmstrom

    April 9, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    In some countries, being LGBT is often a death sentence. The US ignored many European Jews who wanted to immigrate to the US before WWII. Look what happened. Oops.

  12. Don George

    April 9, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    OK, let me summarize. Six years ago when my foreign born partner came to this country, we did everything properly so he could remain legal so that when UAFA passed he could get a green card. Legal, legal, legal. Now that they have thrown UAFA out of CIR, we will be punished for remaining legal. BUT if we had gone ILLEGAL during that same period, the gang of eight's CIR would cover him. ILLEGAL WOULD WORK; STAYING LEGAL, BAD DECISION. Besides this being bad public policy, idiotic, bad precedent and illogical, it is bullshit as well.

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Texas GOP Governor Greg Abbott signs anti-Trans youth sports bill

“Despite the powerful testimony of trans kids & adults- the emails to the Governor to veto this harmful piece of legislation it is now law”



Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott (Blade file screenshot)

AUSTIN – Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Monday H.B. 25, an anti-Transgender youth sports bill banning Trans K-12 student-athletes from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity. 

H.B. 25 is the 9th statewide bill signed into law this year banning transgender youth from participating in school sports and the 10th in the country. This bill also comes during a year when Texas lawmakers have proposed nearly 70 anti-LGBTQ bills, including more than 40 bills that specifically target transgender and nonbinary youth — far more than any other state.

“We are devastated at the passage of this bill. Despite the powerful testimony of trans kids and adults, families and advocates, and the many emails and calls our community placed to the Governor’s office to veto this harmful piece of legislation it is now law,” Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, said.

“Most immediately, our focus is our community and integrating concepts of healing justice to provide advocates who have already been harmed by this bill with spaces to refill their cup and unpack the acute trauma caused by these legislative sessions. Our organizations will also begin to shift focus to electing pro-equality lawmakers who understand our issues and prioritize representing the vast majority of Texans who firmly believe that discrimination against trans and LGB+ people is wrong,” he added.

Earlier this month, the Texas state government was criticized for removing web pages with resources for LGBTQ youth, including information about The Trevor Project’s crisis services. The Trevor Project the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ young people.

“Transgender and nonbinary youth are already at higher risk for poor mental health and suicide because of bullying, discrimination, and rejection. This misguided legislation will only make matters worse,” Amit Paley, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project said in a statement released Monday afternoon.

To every trans Texan who may be feeling hurt and attacked by this legislation and months of ugly political debate — please know that you are valid, and you are deserving of equal opportunity, dignity and respect. The Trevor Project is here for you 24/7 if you ever need support, and we will continue fighting alongside a broad coalition of advocates to challenge this law,” Paley said.


Additional resources:

Research consistently demonstrates that transgender and nonbinary youth face unique mental health challenges and an elevated risk for bullying and suicide risk compared to their peers.  

  • The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that more than half (52%) of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, and 1 in 5 attempted suicide. 94% of LGBTQ youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health. 
  • A newly published research brief on “Bullying and Suicide Risk among LGBTQ Youth,” found that 61% of transgender and nonbinary (TGNB) students reported being bullied either in-person or electronically in the past year, compared to 45% of cisgender LGBQ students. TGNB students who were bullied in the past year reported more than twice the rate of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who were not. And TGNB students who said their school was LGBTQ-affirming reported significantly lower rates of being bullied (55%) compared to those in schools that weren’t LGBTQ-affirming (65%).
  • A 2020 peer-reviewed study found that transgender and nonbinary youth who report experiencing discrimination based on their gender identity had more than double the odds of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who did not experience discrimination based on their gender identity.
  • Trevor’s research has also found that a majority of LGBTQ young people (68%) had never participated in sports for a school or community league or club — with many citing fear of bullying and discrimination as a key factor for not participating.

If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at, or by texting START to 678678.

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Ohio high school cancels play with Gay character after Pastor complains

The School’s fall production of “She Kills Monsters” was scheduled to open in less than one month until the play was canceled



Hillsboro High School (Screenshot via Cincinnati ABC affiliate WCPO-TV)

HILLSBORO, Oh. — A Southwest Ohio high school’s play was abruptly canceled after Jeff Lyle, a local pastor from Good News Gathering, complained of a gay character. 

Hillsboro High School’s fall production of “She Kills Monsters” was scheduled to open in less than one month, until students learned the play would be canceled last week, reports Cincinnati’s ABC affiliate WCPO

The story follows a high school senior as she learns about her late sister’s life. It is implied throughout the play that her sister is gay, according to the news station.

The play’s cancellation comes a week after Lyle, a long-time voice of the anti-LGBTQ+ religious-right in Ohio, and a group of parents confronted the production’s directors at a meeting, according to Cincinnati CBS affiliate Local 12. Lyle denies pressuring school officials, but tells WCPO he supports the decision.

“From a Biblical worldview this play is inappropriate for a number of reasons, e.g. sexual innuendo, implied sexual activity between unmarried persons, repeated use of foul language including taking the Lord’s name in vain,” Lyle said. 

Some families say they believe Lyle did influence the school’s decision. 

“I think that’s wrong,” Jon Polstra, a father of one of the actors, told WCPO. “All they would have had to do if they objected to something in the play was not go to the play.”

In a statement to Local 12, Hillsboro City Schools Superintendent Tim Davis said the play was canceled because it “was not appropriate for our K-12 audience.”

The Lexington Herald Leader reports that the school planned to perform a version intended for audiences as young as 11 years old. 

Students were “devastated” and “blindsided” by the news, according to WCPO. 

“It felt like we had just been told, ‘Screw off and your lives don’t matter,'” Christopher Cronan, a Hillsboro High student, said. “I am openly bisexual in that school and I have faced a lot of homophobia there, but I never expected them to cancel a play for a fictional character.”

Cronan’s father, Ryan, also voiced his frustration. 

“They want to say the town is just not ready, but how are you not ready? It’s 2021,” Ryan Cronan said.

Students have started a GoFundMe in hopes of putting on the production at a community theater in 2022.

“If we do raise enough money, I am going to be genuinely happy for a very long time, because that means people do care,” Cronan told WCPO.

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VIDEO: Utah deal promoted as national model for LGBTQ rights, religious liberty

Data finds state has 2nd highest support for LGBTQ rights



(Screen capture via YouTube)

A new video from the premier LGBTQ group in Utah, challenging the idea LGBTQ rights must be at odds with religious liberty, promotes an agreement reached in the state as a potential model to achieve a long sought-after update to civil rights law at the federal level.

The video, published Friday by Equality Utah, focuses on a 2015 agreement in Utah between the supporters of LGBTQ rights and the Mormon Church to enact a compromise acceptable to both sides. The agreement by those two sides led to an LGBTQ civil rights law in the state, which has Republican control of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion.

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, says in the video dialogue is key to achieving meaningful success, whether its among the people of Utah, a state legislature or lawmakers in Congress.

“When you are working with LGBT rights in a state like Utah, and you want to advance legal equality, you can’t do it without working with Republicans, with conservative, with people of faith,” Williams says.

Williams, speaking with the Washington Blade over a Zoom call, said the main audience for the video is people on “the center right and the center left” willing to listen to other side when it comes to LGBTQ rights and religious liberty.

“People that have the courage to reach out to each other, and sit down across from each other and say, ‘Hey look, let’s hammer this out,” Williams said. “That’s who my audience is.”

Not only did Utah enact non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, but the state under a Republican governor administratively banned widely discredited conversion therapy for youth. When lawmakers proposed legislation that would ban transgender youth from competing in school sports, the proposal was scuttled when Gov. Spencer Cox (whom Williams called a “super Mormon”) said he’d veto it after it came to his desk.

Marina Gomberg, a former board for Equality Utah, is another voice in the video seeking dispel the narrative religious liberty and LGBTQ rights are in conflict.

“in order to protect LGBTQ people, we don have to deny religious liberty, and in order to provide protections for religious liberties, we don’t have to deny LGBTQ people,” Gomberg says. “The idea that we do is a fallacy that Utah has dismantled.”

In July, new polling demonstrated the surprisingly the Utah, despite being a conservative state, has the second highest percentage of state population in support for non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. The data Public Religion Research Institute from 77 percent of Utah residents support LGBTQ people, which is just behind New Hampshire at 81 percent.

Tyler Deaton, senior adviser for the pro-LGBTQ American Unity Fund, said the Utah agreement demonstrates the possibility of reaching an agreement at the federal level once “second order” issues are put into perspective.

“The first order question has to be how are we winning the culture,” Deaton said. “Do people even want to pass the bill? And if they do, you then figure out the details.”

The American Unity Fund has helped promote as a path forward for LGBTQ non-discrimination at the federal level the Fairness for For All Act, legislation seeking to reach a middle ground on LGBTQ rights and religious freedom. Polling earlier this year found 57 percent of the American public back a bipartisan solution in Congress to advance LGBTQ civil rights.

Supporters of the Equality Act, the more established vehicle for LGBTQ rights before Congress, say the Fairness for For All Act would give too many carve-out for LGBTQ rights in the name of religious freedom. The Equality Act, however, is all but dead in Congress and has shown no movement in the U.S. Senate.

Skeptics of the Utah law would point out the law doesn’t address public accommodations, one of the more challenging aspects in the fight for LGBTQ rights and one or remaining gaps in civil rights protections for LGBTQ people in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County. As a result, it’s perfectly legal in Utah for a business owner to discriminate against LGBTQ coming as patrons.

Williams, however, shrugged off the idea the lack of public accommodations protections in Utah make the agreement in the state makes it any less of a model, making the case the spirit behind the deal is what matters.

“I think copying and pasting Utah’s law doesn’t work for lots of reasons,” Wililams said. “What’s most important is a model of collaboration because when you are sitting around the table with each other — Democrats and Republicans, LGBTQ people and people of faith — that’s when the transformation happens. That is when the mutual respect is really forged.”

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