Yesterday, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill, which reports indicate includes the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). UAFA allows United States citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for family-based immigration.
UAFA would provide lesbian and gay individuals the same opportunity as different-sex, married couples to sponsor their partner. The United States lags behind 19 countries that recognize same-sex couples for immigration purposes: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
UAFA, as a standalone bill, was introduced in the 111th Congress by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in the Senate and by Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in the House. On June 3, 2009, the Senate Judiciary Committee held the first-ever congressional hearing on UAFA. UAFA was also included in the outline of a CIR proposal (known as REPAIR) by Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Robert Menendez that was released on April 29, 2010.
Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) included UAFA in the Reuniting Families Act introduced in the House in 2009. Senator Menendez’s CIR bill marks the first time UAFA has been included in a CIR bill in the Senate. HRC thanks Senator Menendez for his continued leadership in the Senate on this issue.