Under the bus we go – WaPo: immigration overhaul could leave gay couples out

You saw it all coming, right? In a pitiful display of bigotry by groups of people who are themselves oppressed and under the legal microscope, we seen the fight for immigration reform is a coalition in turmoil.

About 24,000 gay and lesbian couples in the United States include at least one foreign partner, according to an analysis of census data by researcher Gary Gates at UCLA’s Williams Institute. Though five states and D.C. issue marriage licenses to gay couples, a large number of the 24,000 so-called binational couples in long-term relationships live in states that do not allow or recognize gay marriage.

The demand by these couples to gain the same immigration rights as heterosexuals is supported by key members of Congress, but is undermining the fractious coalition of groups needed to push through an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws. Including equal treatment for gay partners of U.S. citizens, key advocates say, threatens to doom the already fragile hopes for change.

“It introduces a new controversial element to the issue which will divide the faith community and further jeopardize chances for a fair and bipartisan compromise,” said Kevin Appleby of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which last year said the inclusion of gay couples in a House bill aimed at reuniting families made it “impossible” for the group to support the measure. “Immigration is hard enough without adding same-sex marriage to the mix.”

The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, a 16-million-strong group of evangelical Latinos that could play a key political role in an immigration overhaul, is similarly opposed to including provisions for gay and lesbian families. The president of the organization, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, said that including such a measure would prove to be the “death knell” for comprehensive change.

Gay and lesbian foreigners around the country who are in the same predicament as de Leon said the opposition of powerful Catholic and Latino groups was ironic because those groups often saw an immigration overhaul as a civil rights issue – and were quick to blame xenophobia and racism for anti-immigrant sentiment – while simultaneously arguing against equal rights for gays and lesbians.

Again, religion has no place in determining the civil rights of any group of people, yet here we are, watching a chance to build a coalition being splintered by ignorance and fear. How can this be solved? Why is doing the right thing — including gay and lesbian couples in reform — “the problem” as opposed to the irrational bigotry in the Catholic and Latino coaltions? No one is forcing them to marry same-sex couples in the context of immigration reform. It has nothing to do with their belief systems. It’s about entitlement to equal treatment under the law, that currently doesn’t address the myriad problems caused by inadequate laws regarding undocumented residents in this country.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Dallas Immigration MegaMarch 2010

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—  Dallasvoice

2 Arizona cities vote to sue state over new anti-immigration law; others begin boycotts

May 1 Mega March in Dallas
May 1 Mega March in Dallas

The city councils of two Arizona cities voted to sue the state over its new immigration law on Tuesday. Tucson and Flagstaff are both concerned over the impact on tourism and the cost of enforcement.

Participation in Saturday’s Mega March in Dallas and in other marches across the country was fueled by opposition to the new law, which would require law enforcement officials to question people about their immigration status if they’re suspected of being in the country illegally.

Gay groups that participated in the Dallas march support comprehensive federal immigration reform that includes equality for LGBT immigrants.

Four lawsuits had already been filed against the law. A police officer from Tucson and one from Phoenix each have sued on their own behalf and not on behalf of their departments. The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, and a Washington-based researcher who plans to visit Arizona have also sued the state.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup “said the law is based on a misguided notion illegal immigrants are bad for the area’s quality of life and economy. ‘Frankly, I don’t believe that’s true,’ Walkup said.”

In Texas, El Paso is the first city to officially react to the law.

The El Paso Times reports that city workers were instructed to avoid travel to Arizona until the law is repealed. Only one city council member voted against the boycott.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association has already canceled their fall convention that was scheduled to be held in September in Scottsdale.

The law won’t take effect until July . More coverage in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

Right-wing immigration group is gay-baiting Sen. Lindsey Graham

ALIPACAmericans for Legal Immigration is gay-baiting Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-SC) because of his support for immigration reform. Graham is the senator best known for apologizing to Justice Samuel Alito’s wife for the tough questioning of her husband during his judicial committe hearings and calling Justice Sonia Sotomayer “nasty,” “a terror” and “a bit of a bull” at hers.

On their website ALIPAC, they wrote:

The national border security organization known as Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) is officially calling for US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to make his homosexual lifestyle public knowledge in the interest of political integrity and national security.

William Gheen, president of the group, spoke to a Tea Party rally on Saturday, April 17. He said:

US Senator Lindsey Graham is gay and while many people in South Carolina and Washington DC know that, the general public and Graham’s constituents do not. I personally do not care about Graham’s private life, but in this situation his desire to keep this a secret may explain why he is doing a lot of political dirty work for others who have the power to reveal his secrets. Senator Graham needs to come out of the closet inside that log cabin so the public can rest assured he is not being manipulated with his secret.

Really? You don’t care about his “private sexual life?” But proving he’s gay people explains why he supports reforming the broken immigration laws? Because if he’s gay, he’s automatically in favor of illegal immigration? And just what is a “closet inside that log cabin?” A snotty reference to LGBT Republicans or a skewed view of Abe Lincoln’s luxurious suburban upbringing in a mini-mansion made of logs? Making deals to hide being gay? That’s so 1970s.

On the topic of immigration reform, about the only thing that the LGBT community might agree on is that current laws aren’t working. The solution is something that the LGBT community is as divided on as every other group in the country.

One comment by Gheen we can certainly agree with, however.

“Barney Frank has more integrity and bravery than Senator Lindsey Graham right now,” Gheen said, although I’m sure he didn’t mean it as a compliment to Frank.

—  David Taffet

Some census facts … and another reminder

census2010The 2010 Census is the 23rd since the nation’s inception. The census has been conducted in the United States every decade since 1790, as required by Article 1, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution.

· The 10 questions posed in today’s census aren’t very different from the six questions posed in the 1790 Census, except this time they aren’t asking how many slaves you own.

· Thomas Jefferson was the first director of what would become the Census Bureau; James Madison developed five of the six questions posed in the first census.

· The U.S. Census was the first census used to determine political representation for communities. Previous censuses — going back to Biblical times — were used mainly for tax-collection and conscription for labor and soldiers.

· Federal law prohibits the Census Bureau from sharing its information with any other agencies, including the IRS and Immigration.

· It’s a legal obligation to complete your Census form, but it’s also your civic duty. And by completing your form and mailing it back, you’re saving the government money — it costs the U.S. government 44 cents if you mail back your form. If you don’t, the government spends an average of $57 for each house to hire temporary workers to visit your house to get the information.

So if you haven’t already done so, mail in your damn form! It takes 3 minutes to fill out! If you did not receive a form, call 866-872-6868.

—  David Taffet

Another view of Houston's openness

Congrats — sincerely — to Annise Parker for her mayoral victory in Houston. Fourth largest city in America. A banner event for gay people, just (just?) 32 years after Harvey Milk’s election.

But I was focused instead on this story out of Houston, showing that the (Christian-based) Salvation Army is among several charities in the Houston area requiring families seeking support to supply proof of legal immigration status to receive toys for their kids and food on their table. I like this observation:

Suppose the parents had committed a crime that’s even more serious than moving across an international boundary without permission in order to do work in exchange for money (hard to imagine a more serious offense, I know). What if they’d, I dunno, broken into people’s homes and stolen jewelry and now they’re in jail. Is the Salvation Army going to say that their kids shouldn’t have toys to play with? What sense does that make?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

San Angelo mayor's saga puts yet another human face on anti-gay immigration laws

J.W. Lown
J.W. Lown

Remember J.W. Lown, the former mayor of San Angelo who abruptly left office in May to be with his gay lover, an undocumented immigrant? Texas Monthly has a nice follow-up piece on Lown in its September edition, which you can read by going here. The story talks about how most people in the conservative West Texas city — including Lown’s evangelical Christian campaign treasurer, a Bible-thumping colleague on the City Council and even the little old ladies at the bridge club — weren’t really surprised to find out he was gay, and didn’t really care because he was such a good friend and mayor. The author also managed to get in touch with Lown, who recounts from Mexico the touching love story that led to his disappearance just a few days before he was to be sworn in for a fourth term. Above all, Lown’s ordeal serves as a bitter reminder about immigration inequality and the need for the Uniting American Families Act.

“The laws of our country are harsh for illegal immigrants. And I understand that. But same-sex couples don’t have the same benefits as heterosexual couples. Otherwise we could simply have a civil union and cure the problem. That’s not possible.”

—  John Wright