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Immigrants and LGBT Rights Activists Working Together

Today’s Seattle Times has an article, Gay-Rights Movement’s New Focus: Immigrants, discussing how gay rights groups and local immigrant rights groups are working together to fight for immigration reform. Gay rights’ groups have advocated for a solution to the problem facing undocumented people in the US, many of whom are LGBT members. At the same time, many immigrant rights groups support reform of the immigration laws to allow US citizens and green card holders to sponsor their gay spouses. All of that may be decided soon when the US Supreme Court rules on a couple of important cases about the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the primary bar standing in the way of bi- and dual national couples being able to immigrate legally to the US.

Meanwhile, conservative factions of Congress oppose fixing the immigration benefit options for LGBT immigrants. Some see expanding immigration options to bi-national and dual national gay families as a deal breaker to passing a bill on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, while supporters of same-sex couples’ rights, including Maine Republican Senator, Susan Collins, advocate that any CIR bill must have avenues for lawful immigration for these immigrants. See an earlier post on this blog, Getting Married in Washington State: What Binational and Dual National Same-Sex Couples Need to Know about the current options for same-sex couples under the existing system, and how DOMA’s demise could substantially change things for these families. The Obama Administration recently filed a brief in support of gay marriage in the California Proposition 8 case, Hollingsworth v. Perry. Oral argument in that case is scheduled for March 26, 2013. Oral argument in the other case, Windsor v. US, is scheduled for the next day. The Supreme Court’s rulings on these two cases by June will end up affecting what Congress can do concerning the immigration rights of the LGBT community. Stay tuned.