Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Separate But Equal:
Gay Immigration Reform Only for Couples?

There are only so many issues I can follow, and I must admit gay immigration reform simply isn't one of them, because it seems as though whenever such reform is in the news or on the community's radar it is exclusively focused on bi-national couples. Am I right about gay immigration reform involves just couples, not single or unpartnered LGBT persons, such as those seeking a green card or asylum, or gets played from that angle most times?

Today I read Chris Geidner's report for Metro Weekly about President Obama's speech on over all immigration changes, headlined tellingly for my thesis, bolding mine: Obama Does Not Mention Same-Sex Couples in Extensive Immigration Speech.

Chris does not mention anything about gay singles omitted from the prepared remarks of the speech he used as the basis for his report, a report about the omission of gay couples. In the future, I hope he is not so narrow in scope.

After Obama's speech was delivered and Chris's piece was posted, longtime gay immigration attorney Lavi Soloway weighed in on the president's call for change, bolding again mine:

President Obama must act immediately to guarantee that the concern for keeping families together extends to all American families, including those who are currently shut-out of the existing immigration system because of the Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act ... This administration can act now to ensure that no LGBT families are torn apart by instituting a moratorium on deportations of all spouses of lesbian and gay Americans until all married couples are treated equally under our immigration laws.

For me, LGBT families are relationships and agreements created not just from blood and marriage but also when LGBT singles make their own families without weddings. Why is Lavi forgetting to advocate for _all_ queers who would benefit from a comprehensive immigration overhaul?

BTW, Lavi's site devoted to Stop the Deportations: The DOMA Project, suffers from the same tunnel-vision casting gay immigration only to benefit couples.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting we not address the challenges faced by bi-national couples and the impact of DOMA upon them, but let's expand our vision to include the thousands of unpartnered and unmarried foreign gay people in the United States of America.

Let's hope there is not a separate but equal approach in advocating for gay immigration reform, one for singles and another branch of advocacy for married or partnered couples. Reform should aid and assist all gay immigrants.


Ed Sikov said...

I agree completely. This obsession with coupledom is pure ideology - so deeply engrained in our culture that we see it as "natural" if we see it at all. It ain't.

Psyspace said...

Hey Michael, I would ask for your reconsideration of this post. In a broader sense you and I are in complete agreement about the rights of all immigrants without regard to marital status. However what makes the situation of national couples different is that at its core it is not about immigration rights. It is about the lack of equal rights granted to LGB US citizens to live with the families of their choosing by denying US citizens the right to sponsor their same sex partners in the same manner that heterosexual US citizens can. Seen through this lens the issue of binational couples is very different than other LGBT immigration issues. And wild perhaps no more or less important should probably be fought alone and not along side of immigration rights issues