Safe Haven Award Winners
By Rachel Tiven on 03/01/2013 @ 09:45 AM
I am delighted to announce the 2013 Safe Haven honorees. Our May 29th gala is co-chaired by board members Andrew Sullivan and Randy Feuerstein, and we will be joined by special guest Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
This year’s pro bono award winners were selected from among the 40 law firms that devote more than $15 million in legal services to Immigration Equality’s clients — winning a record 121 cases last year, a 99% success rate. The 2013 pro bono winners are Latham & Watkins; Paul, Weiss; Ropes & Gray; and Skadden.
We are also thrilled to honor two stellar members of our Business Coalition for the Uniting American Families Act: Intel and Marriott International. These companies have gone above and beyond in supporting inclusion of LGBT families in immigration reform.
We will present a Global Vision Award to activists Ray Fisher & Juan Carlos Palomino, a binational couple living in London. Ray has been an invaluable member of the Immigration Equality board since 2009. He and Juan Carlos have devoted themselves to Immigration Equality’s success, giving generously of their time, money, and insight. They look forward to the day when no one has to live in exile.
P.S. What does it mean to be on the Host Committee?
Host Committee members help ensure the financial success of the Safe Haven Awards in two key ways. First, they donate at the $1070 “Green Card” level or higher. Second, they sell tickets and recruit five or more friends to join them for this incredible evening. In exchange, host committee members are listed on event materials and are invited to a special invitation signing party on April 15th. To be listed on the print invitation, please join the Host Committee by Friday, March 15.
Lobby in DC!
By Julie Kruse on 02/27/2013 @ 04:55 PM
It’s been a busy few months here in DC, with bill introductions, hearings, press conferences, and more. Now, we’re inviting you, our supporter, to be a part of the action! Immigration reform will be moving forward in Congress this spring and summer, so on April 23-24, Immigration Equality will be hosting our DC Lobby Days. This is the first time we have held national Lobby Days for members and supporters from across the fifty United States (and across the world!), and we want you to be a part of it.
We make it easy — we’ll train you, we’ll set up your appointments, we’ll support you through the whole process. But it just won’t be a success without you here to tell your story.
Meeting with your Members of Congress is one of the most effective things you can do to push for comprehensive immigration reform that includes LGBT families. When a Member has a face-to-face meeting with a constituent affected by this issue (or their friends or family), they remember your faces, they remember your stories, and they want to fight for you.
Join us on Tuesday the 23rd for an afternoon of mandatory training to learn the latest on immigration reform and practice telling your story. Then, on Wednesday the 24th, we’ll take to Capitol Hill for a day of meeting with legislators and a Business and Family reception in the evening. Not only is this a great opportunity to push your elected officials to ensure LGBT families are a part of comprehensive immigration reform, but it’s also a chance to connect with families and friends from across the country and around the globe who care deeply about this issue.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email Kathryn, our Legislative Assistant, at email@example.com.
Looking forward to seeing you in DC soon!
Co-sponsors Old and New Sign on to UAFA
By Laura Hoch on 02/27/2013 @ 10:30 AM
On Wednesday, February 13th Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) reintroduced the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), along with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). This week, they were joined by seven additional co-sponsors: Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Senator William “Mo” Cowan (D-MA), Senator Al Franken (D-MN), and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
Immigration Equality would like to thank all thirteen Senate sponsors of the Uniting American Families Act for standing up for the rights of LGBT families and binational couples. We would like to especially recognize all of our new co-sponsors. Senator Klobuchar, a long time supporter of LGBT rights, is a first time co-sponsor of UAFA. Senator Hirono and Senator Baldwin were previous co-sponsors as members of the House of Representatives and have now signed on to the Senate version after making the move to the upper chamber of Congress. Senators Warren and Cowan (who was recently appointed as the replacement to Senator Kerry) of Massachusetts, both first time members of Congress, also signed on to the Uniting American Families Act on Monday.
If you do not see your Senators’ name, write them and tell them that you want binational couples and LGBT families included in immigration reform! Contact your Senator today and ask him or her to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act.
Activists on 3 Continents Host Valentine’s Day Parties to Support the Action Fund
By Kimberly Topel on 02/26/2013 @ 12:20 PM
From bar nights to film screenings, Immigration Equality’s activists hosted hundreds of supporters to celebrate Valentine’s Day and to look forward to the exciting year ahead. Fundraisers were held in Brooklyn, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC, as well as in London and Rio de Janiero. We are especially grateful to our beverage sponsor, Diageo, an outstanding partner in our Business Coalition for UAFA. Each host who raised $1070 (the price of a green card) or more at their party will receive a delicious bottle of reserve from Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines!
In Chicago, supporters gathered at the Glenwood Bar for a night full of fun; including a silent auction, a raffle, and performances from Florence Nightinjail, Amy Kelly and Bill Andy, and Paloma Vidal. The party raised enough for five green card applications, was attended by more than 100 guests, and was spectacularly planned and executed by hosts Morris Floyd, Caz Glancy, and Wally Andersen.
Our activists in London attended a private viewing of the film Edie and Thea: A Very Long Engagement, described by host and board member Ray Fisher as a “very moving film about two women who spent 40+ years together finally getting married…to have the one sink slowly but gracefully into terminal illness.” Special shout-outs go to all of the hosts as well as to the filmmakers who participated in a special donor dinner the following evening which allowed them to speak more intimately with supporters.
In Brooklyn, Immigration Equality staff partnered with the crew of the documentary film Crossing Over for a night of empanadas, dancing, and activism. Before showing exclusive clips from her upcoming film, director Isabel Castro spoke of her experiences with the transgender Mexican women whose journeys inspired her to create the documentary. Guests also had the opportunity to hear from our very own Clem Lee, Immigration Equality’s detention attorney, who spoke about his passion in working with clients just like the women seen in the film. Thank you to the entire Crossing Over team for inviting us to share in a very fun evening!
Meanwhile, on the West Coast, all-star Valentine’s host Charlie Gu hosted his 4th consecutive fundraiser for us in Los Angeles. Local supporters came together over sunset cocktails in a beautiful home overlooking the Hollywood Hills.
The following weekend, three of our most passionate activists, collectively called ‘Team Asylum’, hosted another incredibly successful event for us at the Lookout Bar in San Francisco. We would also be remiss if we didn’t thank attorney Bryon Large for hosting our first ever event in Denver, Colorado! Bryon was also able to secure a matching gift challenge from his employer, the Joseph Law Firm, which made the evening even more exciting.
All of the Valentine’s Day fundraisers were hugely successful in amplifying our message of hope and acknowledging our resources for binational families and asylum seekers. Hosts were not only able to explain the mission of Immigration Equality, but they were able to share with their friends and family why they personally care or are affected by unfair immigration laws. Thank you to all of the hosts and to everyone involved in making this year’s Valentine’s Day season memorable for us all. Let’s hope this is the last Valentine’s that our families will have to spend apart. Onward!
Chairman and Champion
By Julie Kruse on 02/14/2013 @ 05:00 PM
Chairman Patrick Leahy of the Senate Judiciary made it crystal clear yesterday: LGBT families belong in Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR).
Chairman Leahy (D-VT) is the lead sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). Yesterday, he reintroduced UAFA with Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Then, in a hearing on comprehensive immigration reform, he made it crystal clear that UAFA belongs in it. Because the Judiciary Committee is the committee of jurisdiction for immigration bills, Chairman Leahy will shepherd any bill through committee.
The Chairman was clear at the hearing: Any legislation that comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee should recognize the rights of all Americans, who have just as much right to spousal immigration benefits as anybody else, straight or gay.
You can view Chairman Leahy’s comments here by clicking the "Webcast" link, at minute 5:45.
The Chairman made sure to ask Secretary Janet Napolitano, who leads the Department of Homeland Security which would process green card applications for LGBT spouses and partners of U.S. citizens, whether the Department could effectively implement the bill, avoiding any problems of fraud. The Secretary replied: "no, we don't see that as a barrier to achieving equality”
Judiciary committee members Senators Hirono (D-HI) and Coons (D-DE) called explicitly for LGBT inclusion in CIR.
And, witnesses Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer-prize winning gay undocumented reporter, and Janet Murguia, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) also provided moving testimony in support of LGBT family inclusion. During his testimony, Vargas stated that, "In our American, there is no distinction... between the rights due to heterosexual couples and same-sex binational couples... we need to protect and honor relationships that keep families together."
An immigration bill should be introduced in the Judiciary committee in March, be voted on in committee, and then move to the Senate floor.
The Chairman has made it clear: “[it] should recognize the rights of all Americans…straight or gay.”
Rep Honda Introduces Immigration Legislation to Reunite Families
By Steve Ralls on 02/14/2013 @ 03:18 PM
Today, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) introduced the Reuniting Families Act in the House of Representatives. Rep Honda’s immigration bill helps ensure that visas are allocated efficiently, while alleviating lengthy wait times that keep legal immigrants, and their loved ones overseas, separated for years. The bill also eliminates discrimination in immigration law against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans and their foreign-born partners.
“Our family-based immigration system has not been updated in 20 years, separating spouses, children and their parents, who have played by the rules for years,” said Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), chair emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and chair of CAPAC’s immigration taskforce. “My proposed legislation is in line with American family values and with our need to grow our economy and save taxpayer money. American workers with families by their side are happier, healthier and more able to succeed than those distanced from loved ones for years on end. Our country deserves an immigration system that honors and supports key family values, like keeping families intact. The Reuniting Families Act represents a giant step forward in that commitment and provides a blueprint that respects families, strengthens our economy and fixes a badly broken system. I urge Congress to forge comprehensive immigration reform. For every day Congress delays, more families face separation.”
“As the largest group of new immigrants and the fastest growing racial group in the U.S., Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders must be heard during immigration reform,” said Rep Judy Chu (D-CA), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “A solution that fails to address backlogs and continues to keep families separated is no solution at all. We must recapture unused visas being lost to bureaucratic red tape, we must set maximum waiting periods to no more than 10 years, and we must recognize the undue pain being caused every day that we do not act on these issues. As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am determined to ensure the needs of the AAPI community are met as we address this national imperative.”
“Family is the universal source of success and happiness for people of all faiths, nationalities, and sexual orientations,” said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality. “With family by your side, every American and every newcomer can work hard, study, and achieve. Congressman Honda’s common sense reforms would ensure that tens of thousands of LGBT couples, nearly half of whom are raising children, have the same legal recognition and protection that all families deserve. He was the first lawmaker to propose including LGBT families within a larger immigration reform framework, and he has been steadfast in his commitment to leaving no family behind. Immigration Equality is proud to support the Reuniting Families Act, and to stand alongside our many allies in the family immigration movement who have worked so hard, for so long, to keep all families together.”
“The American dream was created on the idea that families seeking opportunity could come to the United States and build better lives for their families,” said Mee Moua, executive director of Asian American Justice Center. “The family unit is the bedrock of our American society, but for too long our broken immigration system has hurt families by keeping loved ones apart for years, sometimes decades. Too many are living in limbo, waiting for a broken bureaucracy to allow close family members to join their American relatives. We need commonsense solutions like the ones included in Congressman Mike Honda’s Reuniting Families Act to improve and update our family immigration system. A robust family immigration system is good for our communities and our economy. We commend Congressman Honda for introducing this bill and championing family reunification.”
There are currently 4.3 million people in the family immigration backlog waiting to reunite with family members in the United States. The Reuniting Families Act reduces the backlog for families trying to reunite with their loved ones by classifying lawful permanent resident spouses and children as “immediate relatives” and exempting them from numerical caps on family immigration. This legislation sets the maximum wait period for a green card to 10 years, as well as increases per-country limits to 15% so that nations with a higher demand for workers can better equip the American economy with talent.
Leahy And Collins Introduce Bipartisan Uniting American Families Act
By Steve Ralls on 02/13/2013 @ 11:44 AM
WASHINGTON – Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Wednesday introduced bipartisan legislation to update U.S. immigration law to permit American citizens to sponsor same-sex “permanent partners” applying for legal residency in the United States.
The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would allow American citizens who are in long term committed relationships to sponsor their foreign partners for green cards under the family immigration system, just as heterosexual married couples are currently allowed to do under the law. Leahy has championed the proposal since 2003, when he first introduced legislation, and welcomed Collins as the first Republican cosponsor of UAFA last year. In the 113th Congress, Collins joins Leahy as an original cosponsor of the legislation.
“Preserving family unity is central to our immigration policy,” Leahy said. “President Obama understands that, which is why I was so pleased to see that he included UAFA as a core tenet of the immigration principles he outlined last month.” Leahy noted that existing Federal law “forces many Americans to choose between the country they love and being with the people they love.” By allowing qualifying binational couples to keep their families together the bipartisan UAFA bill would prevent American citizens from being faced with such a choice.
"This legislation would update our nation’s immigration laws to treat bi-national couples equally,” Collins said. “More than two dozen countries recognize same-sex couples for immigration purposes. This important civil rights legislation would help prevent committed, loving families from being forced to choose between leaving their family or leaving their country.”
Under the legislation, the same restrictions and penalties applied to heterosexual couples under the Immigration and Naturalization Act for cases of fraud and abuse would also apply to same-sex couples. Any individual found to have entered into a fraudulent, permanent partnership for the purposes of obtaining a visa for another individual would be subject to the same penalties: maximum five-year imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both. The legislation also requires binational couples to provide proof that they meet the definition of “permanent partners” as defined in the bill.
# # # # #
Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on The Introduction Of The Uniting American Families Act
February 13, 2013
Today I am reintroducing the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), which grants same-sex bi-national couples the same immigration benefits heterosexual couples have long enjoyed. This is the sixth Congress in which I have introduced this legislation, and I am proud to be joined this year by Senator Collins, a strong champion for American families. She cosponsored this bill last Congress, and I thank her for her leadership as she joins me as an original cosponsor today.
Preserving family unity is central to our immigration policy. President Obama understands that, which is why I was so pleased to see that he included UAFA as a core tenet of the immigration principles he outlined last month.
Even as American attitudes are changing about the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act forces many Americans to choose between the country they love and being with the people they love. This destructive policy tears families apart and forces hardworking Americans to make the heart-wrenching choice no American should have to make. Families from Maine to California experience this hardship. In Vermont, I have seen firsthand the unfairness that couples have endured as a result of our current laws and have spoken at length on their struggles in this Chamber. I have heard from a number of Vermonters who have had to make the difficult decision to leave their work and homes in Vermont in order to be able to live with their spouses in more welcoming countries; some whose spouses are legally in the U.S. temporarily but worry daily when they will be required to leave the U.S.; and some who suffer the heartbreak of a long-distance marriage when their spouses are denied even a visitor visa to spend some time with their spouses in the U.S. The Senate Judiciary Committee heard directly from families like these as well.
Over the past decade, Americans have begun to reject the notion that U.S. citizens who are gay or lesbian should not have their committed relationships recognized by the law and the protections that provides. As of last month, the District of Columbia and nine states, including Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, and my home state of Vermont, have legalized same-sex marriage. At the end of the 111th Congress, bipartisan votes in both the Senate and the House reversed the Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, a 17-year-old stricture that barred gay and lesbian service men and women from openly serving in the military. Consistent with the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, just last week the Pentagon signaled that it will begin providing benefits to the same-sex spouses of military personnel. As they have many times in our past and will continue in the future, prevailing American attitudes are progressing toward fairness and justice. The Supreme Court is poised to decide the fate of the Defense of Marriage Act and whether that law, which deprives same-sex couples of over 1,000 Federal benefits and responsibilities, is consistent with our constitutional values.
Many of our friends around the world have embraced immigration equality for same-sex families. Today at least 25 nations, including some of our closest allies, offer immigration benefits to same-sex couples. America should join Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom in leading on this issue of civil rights and respect for the dignity of all families. I hope that Senators who supported this important advancement in our military policy will join me in calling for similar fairness and equality in our immigration laws.
Some opponents of the Uniting American Families Act have argued that it would increase the potential for visa fraud. Of course I share the belief that all immigration applications should be screened for fraud, but I am confident that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will have no more difficulty identifying fraud in same-sex relationships than they do in heterosexual marriages. The penalties for fraud under this bill would be the same as the penalties for marriage fraud. These are very strict penalties: a sentence of up to five years in prison, $250,000 in fines for the U.S. citizen partner, and deportation for the foreign partner. In addition, in order to qualify as a bi-national couple under UAFA, petitioners must prove that they are at least 18 years of age and in a committed, lifelong relationship with another adult. The advancement of American ideals that respect human relationships and family bonds need not and should not be impeded by such fears.
Among developed countries with cultures of respect for human rights and fairness, the United States policy in this regard is not living up to our great traditions of equal treatment under the law. We can and should do better. I hope all Senators will agree that the United States should not have a policy that forces Americans to choose between their country and the ones they love, and I urge members of this body to join Senator Collins and me in this effort.
Live from the State of the Union
By Rachel Tiven on 02/12/2013 @ 09:00 AM
This evening, when President Obama delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, LGBT binational families will be there.
We are proud that Immigration Equality client Kelly Costello (pictured) will attend the speech as a guest of Congressman Jerrold Nadler, the lead House sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act. Kelly, who is expecting twins on July 4th with her wife Fabiola Morales, told The Washington Blade on Saturday: “This is something that we have been fighting for a long time. People before me have fought for it. We are living in an important historical moment where the President has already addressed providing equal rights for us, and I think it’s really come to forefront.”
Immigration Equality will be providing social media updates live from the White House between 7:30 and 11pm. Ameesha Sampat from our communications team was invited to the White House to update our followers throughout the evening.
I hope you’ll join Kelly, Ameesha, Congressman Nadler, and everyone demanding LGBT-inclusive immigration reform tonight.
I’ll see you online this evening.
I need you to pledge.
By Julie Kruse on 02/11/2013 @ 06:37 PM
The time to take action for our families is NOW. Immigration reform is moving in the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the White House. With so much happening, we’re counting on you, our committed supporters, to do everything you can to get us to the finish line and WIN for LGBT immigrant families.
We need your families visiting your Members of Congress and telling them your stories face-to-face. We need families writing to their hometown newspapers about why LGBT inclusion matters. We need families to come to Washington DC in April for Immigration Equality’s Lobby Day. We need you to commit to taking an “Action of the Week” to win for LGBT immigrants.
When you pledge to take an action, we’ll call on you when it really counts and we’ll be counting on you to follow through. It’s the only way we can win our families’ inclusion in this critical moment for immigration reform.
How Discriminatory Immigration Law Hurts Business
By Chris Fleming on 02/08/2013 @ 02:30 PM
We’re proud to release a new white paper, “The Cost of LGBT Exclusion: How Discriminatory Immigration Law Hurts Business,” detailing the negative business impact of American immigration law which excludes LGBT families.
We co-authored this report with Out On the Street to highlight the challenges and costs that American and global businesses face. From missed recruits to costly foreign postings, from less productive employees to early retirement, companies are paying the price for a challenge they did not create and cannot fix alone.
This report lays out steps companies can take to ensure that immigration reform includes LGBT families. Principle among those is joining the Business Coalition for the Uniting American Families Act. Immigration Equality Action Fund convenes the Business Coalition to marshal corporate support for the aforementioned bill in Congress.
Read the full white paper (embedded below), and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Across the table from the President
By Rachel Tiven on 02/06/2013 @ 12:42 PM
Yesterday in an email to our board, staff, and some close friends, our executive director wrote about her face-to-face meeting with President. I've been a part of Immigration Equality as volunteer and now on staff for over a decade. This is an incredibly exciting moment and wanted to share what Rachel said. Please find it below. -- Christopher
This morning I represented LGBT families at a meeting with President Obama. Sixteen core immigration groups were invited — including National Council of La Raza, Asian American Justice Center, Center for Community Change, United We Dream — and us.
I told the President that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community is ready and eager to support immigration reform that includes all families. I said that we heard him loud and clear on Inauguration Day, and that "Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall" is a responsibility we take seriously. This is our first opportunity to flex our muscle since that amazing Election Day, and we will do it for the thing that matters most: keeping our families together.
At the very same time, Congressman Jerry Nadler reintroduced the Uniting American Families Act, UAFA, in the House. For the first time, the bill has Republican and Democrat original co-sponsors. In the last Congress the Uniting American Families Act had more support than any other immigration bill.
Crucially important right now is to insist that the "Gang of 8" Senators include UAFA in the base bill they are writing now. Please call Senators Schumer, Menendez, Durbin and Bennett and tell them how disappointed you are that we weren't in their principles, and that our community will push hard for immigration reform for all families.
Years ago I set out to give LGBT people a seat at the immigration table, and today we have one. Let's use it to win.
By Julie Kruse on 02/05/2013 @ 12:52 PM
This morning Congressman Nadler re-introduced the Uniting American Families Act in the 113th Congress.
"Our immigration system has always recognized the value of keeping families together. But when it comes to legally married same-sex couples and domestic partners our immigration law says those families don’t count." — Represenative John Conyers (Michigan) as quoted in The Hill
Congressman Nadler is familiar with the re-introduction process; he has been the lead sponsor of UAFA for over a decade. But this time, it's different. With immigration reform on the horizon, the support that we gather for UAFA in these next few months could make the difference for our families’ inclusion.
Last year, UAFA had the most co-sponsors of any immigration bill in the House or Senate. This record number of co-sponsors sends a message that LGBT immigrant families cannot be left out of immigration reform. Help us reach that same number of co-sponsors — and more — by writing to your Representative now.
Sending your letter is easy — we provide some starter text, you just include a few sentences about what UAFA means to you and your family.
We’ll keep you posted on our progress. And keep an eye out in the coming days for even more that you can do. Let’s ensure that this is Congressman Nadler’s last UAFA re-introduction.
Aboard Air Force One
By Rachel Tiven on 01/29/2013 @ 03:07 PM
An hour ago, White House press secretary Jay Carney confirmed to reporters traveling with President Obama aboard Air Force one that the commander-in-chief wants our families in immigration reform.
Speaking about the inclusion of the Uniting American Families Act in the coming immigration reform bill, Carney said, “The President believes that it should be included and that should come as no surprise.... As we've said all along, this is consistent with the principles he has laid out over the last four years. And 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.”
The President has our families’ backs, now let’s back him up and get inclusive immigration reform passed.
First, call the White House and tell President Obama: “Thank you for including LGBT families among your priorities for immigration reform.” Dial the White House at (202) 456-1111, or if the line is busy, send him a message online here.
Then, call both of your Senators and tell them: “I support the President’s plan for immigration reform that includes LGBT families.” Dial the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. The operator will be able to connect you with your Senator. Then, call back again to speak with your other Senator, too.
Finally, forward this post along to five of your friends, and ask them to call and support the President’s inclusive plan, too.
President Obama has shown his leadership before, leading the charge to help topple “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and transforming public opinion about marriage equality. We know his leadership can help our families make history this time, too.
Together with the President, we can pass inclusive immigration reform.
Ally organizations stand up for LGBT families!
By Kathryn Baxter on 01/29/2013 @ 12:25 PM
Immigration Equality is proud to partner with immigration, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, and other groups to work towards fair, inclusive immigration reform that keeps all families together and offers a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented. Many of these groups called yesterday for a bipartisan group is Senators to explicitly add LGBT families to their immigration reform framework and bill. We thank our allies for supporting the LGBT immigrant families in their communities!
“We will stand up for every family, including LGBT families, who deserve the same protections as every other family.”
“The Senate-proposed principles tackle our long backlogs of family members waiting in line to come to the U.S., but at the same time did not expand immigration benefits to same-sex partners.”
“We are also disappointed by the exclusion of the Uniting American Families Act to ensure fair treatment of LGBT families from the bill.”
“We will work toward ensuring that adopted reform recognizes and addresses all of the elements of our current immigration system that are at odds with our nation's constitutional principles, including… enforcement of family unification policies that discriminate against LGBT couples.”
“We are also hopeful that as this proposal moves through the legislative process, LGBT-inclusive measures which LULAC has long supported will be added to the legislation.”
Joint statement by National Center for Lesbian Rights, Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality Action Fund, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, and National Center for Transgender Equality:
“Any legislation must include the ability of couples in same-sex relationships to sponsor their spouse or permanent-partner in the same way opposite-sex couples have long been able to under current immigration law.”
“As we learn more about the Senate principles and hear President Obama’s immigration framework tomorrow, we hope the President specifically outlines a proposal that fully integrates the needs of LGBT immigrants in the United States.
“We will work non-stop to make sure our families are part of comprehensive immigration reform legislation when it is introduced. Any immigration bill in Congress must allow LGBT people to sponsor their spouse or permanent partner in the same way opposite-sex couples have long been able to under current immigration law.”
The Washington Examiner also highlighted the broad support across groups for LGBT family protections. We pledge to continue working with our allied organizations for fair, inclusive immigration reform and are grateful for their support.
Today I need you to make three calls.
By Rachel Tiven on 01/28/2013 @ 12:30 PM
Earlier this morning, a bipartisan group of Senators issued a framework for comprehensive immigration reform. To our great disappointment, their plan does not explicitly include LGBT binational families.
Today’s framework is a starting point, but not yet a bill. Will you make 3 phone calls today to insist that our families be part of any immigration reform bill in Congress?
First, call the White House. Tomorrow, President Obama will unveil his own plan for immigration reform during a speech in Las Vegas. Earlier this week, the White House issued its strongest statement yet in support of our families. Now, we need to ensure the President doesn’t forget us tomorrow.
Call the White House at (202) 456-1111. Tell the President, “I appreciate the President’s support of LGBT immigrant families. I am calling to ask that when the President speaks tomorrow in Las Vegas, he specifically call for immigration reform that keeps gay binational families together.”
Then, call each of your Senators. Dial the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. The operator will be able to connect you with your Senator. When they do, tell them, “I am a constituent, and I am calling to ask the Senator to work for a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes the Uniting American Families Act.”
Then, call back a second time, and send the same message to your other Senator.
With your help, we can work to ensure that, when legislation is introduced in Congress, it includes our families. Now is the time to pass immigration reform that helps all families. That starts – right now – with your phone calls.
Don’t be tardy for the party!
By Lauren Lomauro on 01/25/2013 @ 04:12 PM
Valentine’s Day presents a special opportunity to raise awareness about the thousands of loving couples separated or facing separation because of our country’s unjust immigration laws. This year, we hope you will mark the occasion by attending a Valentine’s fundraiser in your city, or by hosting your own. It’s not too late!
We are especially grateful to our beverage sponsor, Diageo, an outstanding partner in our Business Coalition for UAFA. Diageo has generously agreed to donate a delicious bottle of reserve from Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines to each host who raises $1,070 (the price of a green card) or more at their party!
Please join any of our Valentine’s day parties below or support them with a donation:
- Brooklyn Movie Night: Crossing Over
Friday, February 15 at 8pm
- Chicago Bar Night
Saturday, February 16 at 4pm
- Denver Bar Night
Wednesday, February 13 at 5:30pm
- Kansas City (RSVP by email)
Stay tuned — later this spring!
- London Movie Night: Edie and Thea: A Very Long Engagement
Monday, February 18 at 6:30pm
- London Donor Dinner with the Filmmakers (RSVP by email for address)
Tuesday, February 19 at 7pm
- Los Angeles House Party in the Hollywood Hills
Saturday, February 9 at 3pm
- Miami Bar Night
Sunday, February 17 at 9pm
- Rio de Janeiro Bar Night (RSVP by email for address)
Thursday, February 28 at 7pm
- San Francisco Bar Night
Friday, February 15 at 9pm
- Seattle House Party
Thursday, February 14 at 7pm
- Washington, DC House Party (RSVP by email for address)
Saturday, February 16 at 7pm
Thank you for your loving support. We hope you will donate to a Valentine’s Day party near you.
NYC Binational Couple Knows The Value Of Community Service
By Ameesha Sampat on 01/19/2013 @ 10:25 AM
Today, as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a National Day of Service, Immigration Equality would like to shine a spotlight on one binational couple that have made service and volunteerism within their community a part of their regular lives.
Steven Eng, a U.S. citizen, and Neal Stone, his Canadian partner, are “diehard volunteers” when it comes to community service and contributing to service groups and organizations. The two met when they were both employed at the same urban planning firm in New York, and volunteered to participate in the firm’s holiday choir. Fortunately for the couple, Neal has always maintained lawful non-immigrant status for the almost 15 years he has lived and worked in the United States. They bought a house together in 2006, were married in 2009, and have made Jackson Heights their home.
I had the chance to speak with Steven about their experiences volunteering and what it means to them.
How did you first get involved in community service?
Neal comes from a long family line of people back in Canada who set a great example for him with their public service and volunteerism. He believes that volunteerism is done with the best of intentions to work together with others to make communities and society better. That's why he does urban planning, professionally; there's great satisfaction knowing that you're contributing to making the world a better place to live for everyone.
I grew up in a pretty poor area, and both of my parents were always working. I grew up around people who didn’t have a lot, but were good people. I saw the amount of time my parents would give to me at school, as best they could, to help raise money or make food for school banquets. Probably it came from my parents’ own sense of giving… Once I was out on my own and opportunities came up, it was a no-brainer.
You each have your own separate projects – Steven founded a young not-for-profit organization, National Asian Artists Project (NAAP), and Neal is beginning an elected two-term Chairmanship this spring for the National Gays & Lesbians in Planning within the American Planning Association – but do you also participate in events together?
We do both belong the Lions Club. We also have friends that will have activities going on who will ask for volunteers, and we’ll do it together, like the Youth Dance at the LGBT center in Manhattan. Aside from our individual projects, most of our volunteer time is together. We like to help each other out.
What would you say was the most memorable or meaningful event you’ve participated in?
The LGBT youth dance was really important to us. Seeing out teenagers – we were in awe this would even happen, because when we were growing up that would not happen. We were able to give them a safe environment where they could just be themselves. That’s not something we ever got to experience.
Anything big coming up on the horizon?
As Lions Club members, we will again be participating in the January 28th night-long New York City Department of Homeless Services HOPE survey for their National Day of Service. The HOPE survey is performed on one of the coldest nights of the year, when the parks, subways, streets and other public spaces of all five New York City boroughs are canvassed by more than 3,000 volunteers to count and find assistance for the number of people living unsheltered in the city. Additionally, fundraising for the 2013 New York City AIDS Walk on May 19th in Central Park has already kicked off, and we will again proudly be a part of Scott A. Kramer’s Pat Benatar-inspired “Team Invincible” – as we have for much of the past decade.
Do you have plans for the National Day of Service on Saturday?
We’ll both be doing more planning work on upcoming projects – Neal’s starting his new position with Gays & Lesbians in Planning within the American Planning Association, and is excited to implement some new programming, and I plan to be very busy with my not-for-profit!
Do you have any advice for people who are thinking of getting involved in their community?
Ask yourself first: what is it you really enjoy? I’m quite certain that there is a way to offer it to people who can benefit from it. It can be anything! If you love to read, then read to people. There are plenty of underserved people in most communities that can always benefit from any individual’s talent or interest. Find a community center or organization that has outreach and see if you can offer your services.
I will admit that I had the luxury of growing up around supportive and loving people, which a lot of people don’t have. It’s that kind of support that enables somebody to take another step and say, “I’ll be happy to do this for other people.” I’m lucky, and I know that.
Steven and Neal are a family that is contributing to their community. Share your story, too, to help us show Congress, the media, and anyone who doubts that our families need a permanent solution to make their communities truly their homes.
Send a postcard to Congress with just a few clicks
By Julie Kruse on 01/11/2013 @ 10:13 AM
I’m excited to let you know that the Latino community is standing with Immigration Equality to fight for LGBT immigrant families, and we are standing up to support immigration reform that helps ALL families! Thirty national Hispanic organizations and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have called for comprehensive immigration reform that includes LGBT families and the Uniting American Families Act.
Now, Immigration Equality is standing up with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the largest Hispanic membership organization in the U.S., to call for comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship and family unification — for all families.
In November, both the Latino and LGBT communities flexed our electoral muscles, and made it clear that we can win at the polls – for LGBT families, and for immigration reform. Members of Congress of both parties got the message loud and clear, calling for immigration reform.
Now, our communities join together to remind Congress that we voted for immigration reform — and that we want them to act. Click here to send a postcard telling your members of Congress exactly that.
In addition to calling for a pathway to citizenship and fixes to the employment visa system, the postcard explicitly calls for the ability of LGBT Americans to sponsor their partners/spouses for immigration.
When you digitally “sign” this postcard online, LULAC will mail a hard copy of your postcard to your Members of Congress. We need Congressmembers’ mailboxes flooded with these postcards — demanding immigration reform that is truly comprehensive by including all families.
The fight for immigration reform that is inclusive is one we are poised to win, but need your help every step of the to make it happen. We need you fighting like your family depends on it… because it does. Over the coming months we’ll be asking you to help us win equality in a number of ways — calling your Members of Congress, writing letters to the editor, attending an event in your area, or sharing your story.
There will be lots to do in these critical months. Today, we’re just asking you to sign a postcard.
Where's the Party?
By Lauren Lomauro on 01/08/2013 @ 02:20 PM
Share the love during the week of Valentine’s Day by hosting a fundraising party for Immigration Equality. A February party is a fun way for you to bring together supporters and future supporters.
There are so many ways to participate:
• Host a brunch or cocktail party at your home. • Hold an event at a neighborhood bar. • Have a bake sale.
We have all the tools you need to make your party a success.
Not interested in hosting but want to mingle with like-minded supporters of equality? Sign up here for the guest list. We’ll let you know about parties in your area.
I look forward to hearing your great party ideas!
Remembering Senator Inouye
By Julie Kruse on 12/18/2012 @ 01:03 PM
We are saddened by the death of Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii yesterday. Senator Inouye broke barriers as the first Japanese-American elected to the United States Congress. During his more than 50 years there he was a strong champion for social justice and equality. He supported equality for LGBT immigrants and was a strong advocate of immigrant rights and LGBT equality overall. He was a long-time co-sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act. In 2011, Senator Inouye signed a letter to the Department of Homeland Security asking for green cards for same-sex spouses to be held rather than denied – progress we are still fighting for today. He was a co-sponsor of many other pieces of pro-LGBT and pro-immigrant legislation, including the Respect for Marriage Act and the DREAM Act.
Senator Inouye’s staff that Immigration Equality worked with, like the Senator himself, were kind, generous with their time, helpful, and cared deeply for all Hawaii families.
Daniel Inouye’s death is a loss not just for the Senate and the state of Hawaii, but for all who seek to advance justice.