May 5, 2010
by Brian Leubitz
Today is Cinco de Mayo, the commemoration of a big victory of Mexican forces over the French. So, it’s not so much the Mexican July 4 as the Mexican Armisitice Day that celebrates our victory in the Great War. History lessons aside, I thought I would touch upon the subject of immigration.
Mexico is, of course, the largest source of immigrants to this nation, documented or otherwise. This is particularly true in Arizona, where the Governor just signed a semi-fascist and racist law that requires police to “seek the papers” of anybody they suspect of not being in the country legally. The law threatens and belittles the concept of America as a nation of immigrants (sorry about that Native Americans), and recasts us in a struggle in which we need not engage.
That being said, why am I writing about this here? Because America needs comprehensive immigration reform that includes a provision for same-sex partners. As the law currently stands, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency sees no relationship between even the longest of couples. If I choose to marry a Canadian citizen, I cannot bestow American citizenship like a straight couple. Here’s the basic story from Immigration Equality, an organization that is working to change this situation:
Binational couples are couples in which the partners come from different countries. Nineteen nations allow their citizens to sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration benefits. Unfortunately, the United States does not. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, even same-sex couples who have been legally married in U.S. states or foreign countries are not able to immigrate based on their marriage. Every day we hear from desperate couples, forced to choose between the partner they love and the country they love, which is why we are fighting to change the immigration law and end this discrimination.
Clearly if the Arizona law does nothing else, it has reopened the issue of immigration and laid bare what will happen as rogue states and politicians succumb to nativist fears. But for our community, the only solution is a federal solution. Whether through a full repeal of DOMA (which should happen anyway) or through a provision in the immigration reform package. Currently, Sen Schumer has brought together a draft reform package that includes immigration equality for same-sex couples. Whether it will remain in the bill and whether a bill will get passed at all in an election year seem to remain the substantive questions, though.
Too many couples are at the whim of a government that forces them to leave the country or break up. That is simply not acceptable.