I am American but my partner is Brazilian. We have been togeth- er for 14 years.Three years ago we were married in Massachusetts and we recently adopted a child. My partner is here on a student visa. How do I sponsor her to become a permanent resident?
–An International Family
It sounds like you have a beautiful relationship and a lovely family. Now here’s the ugly part. The United States grossly lags behind most devel- oped nations including Canada and Australia, as well as lesser developed countries like Slovenia, who have recognized the right for same sex cou- ples to marry. That’s right, Slovenia has stepped up to be a leader in the free world while the U.S. continues to embarrass us internationally when it comes to marriage equality.
While some states have independently allowed same sex marriage like Massachusetts, the unfortunate reality is that because we have a federal law called the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA—signed into law by none other than President Bill Clinton, go figure) any state gay marriage is considered void under federal law. Because immigration is federal, the unfortunate and truly unbelievable reality is that U.S. citizens married to same sex partners under state law to foreign nationals have absolutely no recourse whatsoever in this country to petition for their spouse to be given legal residency. Does Mayor Bloomberg still think the government should take a laissez faire attitude towards recognizing same sex marriages?
Also we need to put more pressure on our federal elected officials to move the Uniting American Families Act forward, which is a bill that would allow same-sex partners to sponsor foreign partners for permanent residence.
Finally, we all must get involved politically. First on the marriage front, the best organization to get involved with is Marriage Equality. Their website is marriagequality.org, and the New York site is meny.us. Immigration Equality is an organization committed to addressing issues related to immigration for the LGBT community.Their website is immigrationequality.org.
Remember, don’t get angry, get organized. I know that’s easy for me to say. The reality is this discriminatory practice rips families apart and causes hardship and heartache daily, but it won’t change until we do something about it.
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*This column is not a consultation with an attorney and should in no way be construed as such or as a substitute for such consultation. Anyone with legal issues or concerns should seek the advice of her own attorney.