December 16, 2008
Gay immigration rights on Change.org
Posted by: Chris
Have you heard about Change.org? It's a MoveOn.org-type liberal-progressive site that despite its name and appearances is affiliated only in spirit with Barack Obama. The site's primary focus has been to develop a "change agenda" for the "change candidate" who's now the "change president-elect":
Anyone can submit an idea and comment and vote on others. The top 10 rated ideas will be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009 as the "Top 10 Ideas for America."
We will then launch a national campaign behind each idea and mobilize the collective energy of the millions of members of Change.org, MySpace, and partner organizations to ensure that each winning idea gets the full consideration of the Obama Administration and Members of Congress.
Those Top 10 ideas are being selected through two rounds of voting. The top three vote-getters within each of 12 issue categories will survive the first round, which runs through Dec. 31. So far, there are more than 3,150 ideas. Even though there is a category called "Gay Rights," one lonely gay rights idea important to so many of us got tucked away under the "Immigration" category.
You got it, ranked all the way up at No. 2 among 98 immigration ideas is "Equal Immigration Rights for Binational Couples." Not too shabby, but if you'll take just a minute to add your vote, we can help ensure it survives to the second round of voting.
(Trailing by only a few votes is a call to allow undocumented immigrants who marry Americans to adjust their illegal status without first returning home or proving "extreme hardship," and another to stop immigration raids. And people say UAFA has an uphill political climb!)
A video accompanying the post tells the three-hanky story of one young lesbian couple forced to separate for four months before the American half could travel around the world to New Zealand, where her relationship with her partner is recognized for immigration purposes.
(Sorry but the video does not seem to be loading, at least on my browser. Anyone else seeing it here? You can view it here on Current.) Their story hit home to me for obvious reasons, but I would be interested to know if those not impacted so directly by this issue are emotionally affected as well.
Another, much shorter video is included as a plea to accompany the "Action": Tell Congress to pass the Uniting American Families Act.
It won't win any Oscars, but the way the couple resorts to hiding their identity is nonetheless visually striking, and enough to make this "Action" the most popular right now on the site. (I haven't quite figured out the difference between an "Idea" and an "Action." It's all a bit confusing, or maybe I'm just too 1.0 to figure it all out.)
Within the immigration section, there's a powerful open letter to Barack Obama from Rachel Tiven, director of Immigration Equality, that brings up the issue in a way quite personal to the president-elect, the son of a Kenyan and a Kansan:
For lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender immigrants and the Americans who love them, your personal history holds a special promise. As the child of a binational couple who fell in love despite different citizenships and social stigma, you are uniquely able to understand the struggle of same-sex binational couples. Unlike a straight American, a gay or lesbian U.S. citizen who falls in love with a foreign national has no way to sponsor him or her for immigration benefits — and is then forced to choose between their beloved and their country. You have said you support an end to this cruel choice, an end to forced family separation, and an end to discrimination against LGBT immigrants.
As you know, the answer to this injustice is the passage of the Uniting American Families Act. Please urge Congress to act on the bill, and insist that it be included in full, fair, and comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
For those interested in how your's truly explained my vote for the equal immigration rights "Idea," I've included my post to their site in the jump:
To some, this might appear to be a narrow issue that does not affect
many people. But more than almost any other form of anti-gay
governmental discrimination, these unequal immigration policies force
Americans like me into an incredible cruel choice: my partner or my
More than two years ago, I left behind my career, a company I co-founded, my dogs of 15 years, my home, my friends, my family -- everything -- just to be with my partner in Brazil.
I would urge each and every one of you considering this issue for the first time to just imagine how horribly painful such a choice would be for you. I think you will agree that this simple change in the law, one of fairness and equality, is one that the Obama administration should give high priority.
(FYI, candidate Barack Obama promised his support for equal immigration rights and the Uniting American Families Act.)
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