HuffingtonPost Highlights LGBT Binational Families on Thanksgiving
By Steve Ralls on 11/25/2010 @ 09:50 AM
This morning, HuffingtonPost.com's home page includes the stories of LGBT binational families as part of the site's 'Thanksgiving 2010' coverage. HuffPo - one of the most widely read sites on the web - features Immigration Equality's recent work on behalf of the Uniting American Families Act among its front page headlines for the holiday.
As most Americans begin the holiday season on Thursday, in a national observance of "thanks," many will come together with family, friends and loved ones. But for one group of Americans, the holidays can be an especially painful experience. Thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens in relationships with partners from abroad will be forced to spend Thanksgiving alone... or packing their bags so they can keep their families together.
Under current U.S. immigration laws, lesbian and gay Americans do not have the right to sponsor their foreign national partners for residency, as their straight neighbors do. Instead, immigration laws force these couples -- about 17,000 of whom are raising young children who are American citizens -- to separate or leave the country, forced into exile because their families are not recognized under federal law. This painful reality is forcing many American citizens, and their families, to flee their own country, exacting a heavy cost on our economy, communities and on the countless people who constitute their extended families, too.
In San Jose, California, Judy Rickard will spend Thanksgiving without her partner Karin, who is a British citizen. Judy took early retirement from her job with a university so she could be with her partner. Though Karin has been able to remain in the U.S. for six months each year, thanks to a tourist visa, the couple were forced to live abroad the remainder of the year. When Karin was forced to return to Britain earlier this year, however, Judy had to remain behind. Now, they will spend the holidays apart, while confronting a painful choice together: Will Judy sell her home and relocate abroad? And if she does, how will she maintain ties with her family -- including her elderly parents -- here in the United States?
Each day, more and more binational couples are moving abroad, as 19 countries -- and counting -- allow them to keep their families together. While many nations have amended their immigration laws to recognize lesbian and gay families (with Ireland being just the latest to do so), the United States continues to bar federal recognition of those families at nearly every turn.
The stark reality is that United States law is forcing Americans to rip their families apart, or leave their own country in order to be with the person they love.