On Tuesday, Democratic Jewish Congressman from Lower Manhattan Jerrold Nadler, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, led a bipartisan coalition of congressional champions of immigration reform and civil rights in re-introducing the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Charlie Dent (R-PA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), Jared Polis (D-CO), David Cicilline (D-RI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Mark Takano (D-CA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Mike Honda (D-CA), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
UAFA would allow gay and lesbian Americans to sponsor their permanent partners for legal residency in the United States, a right currently enjoyed only by married heterosexuals under immigration law. Because the U.S. does not legally recognize gay and lesbian couples and their children as families, many same-sex bi-national couples are torn apart. As the push for comprehensive immigration reform increases in Congress, the original co-sponsors asserted that any legislative proposal for immigration reform must include UAFA and equality for LGBT families. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) also plans to introduce UAFA in the Senate.
“Today, thousands of committed same-sex couples are needlessly suffering because of unequal treatment under our immigration laws, and this is an outrage,” said Nadler. “Our Constitution guarantees that no class of people will be singled out for differential treatment – and LGBT Americans must not be excluded from that guarantee. Moreover, any serious legislative proposal for comprehensive immigration reform absolutely must include gay and lesbian couples and their families.”