Image Courtesy of: Stop the Deportations.

 

This winter, families from across the country came together to celebrate the holidays together. However, some Americans will yet again watch the festivities from afar while exiled. For binational couples —- LGBT Americans with partners from other countries —- the holiday season reminds them of discriminatory U.S. laws that tear their family apart by forcing the exile of thousands of American citizens.

Because of “Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)” LGBT Americans can’t sponsor their partners for visas or green cards like all other Americans can. This act forces them to live thousands of miles apart from their partners and families. The Obama administration has refused to defend the act in federal court because it says it is unconstitutional. However, it has failed to protect LGBT Americans from its most devastating effect in the context of immigration.

In attempts to bring attention to the horrendous choice between love and country forced upon binational LGBT couples, organizations including GetEQUAL and Out4Immigration call on Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to reunite these couples with their families in the United States. The Obama administration could have easily allowed these couples to be together for the holidays by simply granting temporary “humanitarian parole” to the foreign partners of U.S. citizens.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently delivered a powerful and historic speech to the United Nations. She called on the international community to respect the human rights of all LGBT people, as well as instructed U.S. embassies around the world do everything in their power to aid LGBT persons abroad. While the incredible speech was watched around the world, LGBT Americans who have become refugees from their own country were hopeful that changes would in time for them to be home with their loved ones for the holidays. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano now has the opportunity to fulfill the core promise of that speech for all LGBT Americans.

This video campaign in response to the DOMA situation features Jesse, an American citizen from New York, and Max, his partner of more than 10 years who is a citizen of Argentina. Jesse and Max are living in exile in London due to Jesse’s inability to sponsor Max for a green card because of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Jesse, a born-and-bred New Yorker, has had to live thousands of miles from his own family year after year, missing every holiday and celebration. There are thousands of binational LGBT couples who are dealing with the same. They are either forced to live in separate countries and see each other once or twice a year, or forced to find a home in a country that does allows them to live together. Having their relationship recognized leaves them far from the family they have left behind in the United States.

In a follow-up statement to the White House’s LGBT Pride Reception over the summer, the Obama Administration said that “Americans with partners from other countries should not be faced with a painful choice between staying with their partner or staying in their country.” LGBT Americans across the globe rejoiced at this statement of support. Unfortunately, they have not yet seen the changes to laws or policies that would reunite LGBT Americans with their loved ones and allow for same-sex binational couples to be together in this country.

“Secretary Clinton’s speech to the U.N. was incredible — and the Obama Administration has an opportunity right now to give shape to those words by proving to the LGBT community that it values and supports our relationships,” said Robin McGehee, director of GetEQUAL. “We’ve heard a lot of nice words from this Administration — now it’s time to move beyond words to action, and to bring these couples home for the holidays.”

The petition can be found at: www.getequal.org/gethome

Founded in 2010, GetEQUAL is a national grassroots organization whose mission is to empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community and our allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information, go to www.getequal.org, www.facebook.com/getequal, or www.twitter.com/getequal.

 

 

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Story from Melanie Nathan via http://oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com

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