Today I signed on as a co-sponsor of a letter by the Faith Coalition for the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). The UAFA legislation ends the long-standing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender immigrant families. The letter, with the support of the Union for Reform Judaism, our national synagogue organization, says:
Dear Honorable Senators and Members of Congress:
We, the undersigned faith-based leaders and organizations, join together to call upon President Obama and our elected officials in Congress to enact inclusive, comprehensive immigration reform legislation that ends the long-standing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender immigrant families.
Our diverse faith traditions teach us to welcome and care for our neighbors with love and compassion. Of the many great injustices in this broken immigration system, family separation is one of the most egregious. Family is the bedrock of any society and is critical in the development of healthy individuals and strong communities. Immigration policies should make expeditious family reunification a top priority and should include all families as part of that foundation. For us, this is a clear matter of simple justice.
Under current immigration law, gay and lesbian people cannot sponsor their foreign-born partner for an immigration visa, no matter how long they have been together or how committed their relationship. With no ability to sponsor their partners, U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents are being forced to live abroad, disrupting their careers, uprooting their children, and breaking ties with family, local communities and places of worship. No one should be forced to choose between their country and the person they love. It is time that U.S. immigration laws kept families together instead of tearing them apart.
There are over twenty countries — including strong allies such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Israel and South Africa — that recognize the permanent partnerships of lesbian and gay couples within their immigration laws. The United States should also be a leader in protecting the equal rights of its citizens and should not continue this discriminatory treatment in its immigration laws.
The Uniting American Families Act would end the long-standing discrimination lesbian and gay binational couples face under current immigration law. This bill would allow lesbian and gay binational couples to petition in the same way – and with the same rigorous process of documentation – as straight couples. We endorse the Uniting American Families Act which upholds the fundamental value of keeping families together. We urge Congress to pass this critically important legislation as part of any comprehensive immigration reform measure.
We call on President Obama, and Members of Congress, to provide the leadership and moral courage to pass inclusive and comprehensive immigration reform legislation. No reform can truly be called comprehensive unless it includes LGBT immigrant families as well. We are committed to working together for this long overdue and much-needed reform.
We must all work to honor our country’s commitment to families and its rich history as a nation of immigrants.