The US Senate Judiciary Committee held the first-ever congressional hearing yesterday on immigration rights for gay and lesbian couples. The hearing focused on the Uniting American Families Act, which seeks “to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses of citizens and lawful permanent residents”
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and is a sponsor of this legislation, said in a statement: “For too long, gay and lesbian American citizens whose partners are foreign nationals have been denied the ability to sponsor their loved ones for lawful permanent residency. Under current immigration law, many citizens have been forced to choose between their country and their loved ones. No American should face such a choice.”
According to Immigration Equality, there are approximately 36,000 same sex couples that are separated or facing separation because US immigration laws do not allow sponsorship by same sex partners. About half of the affected couples are currently raising children.