LGBT Foreign Policy Applauded AND Human Rights should Start at Home with Fiance Visas and Greencards for Same-sex Couples

Pro-Gay Foreign Policy Applauded,  YET Obama Administration Fails Binationals at home; surely being separated from fiance’s and spouses is a human rights issue too? Melanie Nathan

by Melanie Nathan, Dec 06, 2011

Building on pro-gay policies put in place by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Obama today ordered overseas federal agencies to fight local anti-gay violence and provide asylum to homosexuals seeking protection. This came on the same day as Secretary Clinton’s groundbreaking address to the delegates in Geneva on International  Human Rights Day, which included many advocates and activists from Africa. Yet nothing is being done to help our binational same-sex couples on U.S. shores who have been separated from loved ones for years. Surely this is a human rights infraction worthy of immediate attention on home soil?

Obama said, “I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world — whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation.”

The sweeping policy command included:

  • Combat the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad.
  • Protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination.
  • Ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad.
  • Engage International Organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination.
Statement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the President’s Memorandum on International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of LGBT Persons:
New York, NY  December 6, 2011
Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations

Today, President Obama directed all agencies to protect and promote the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons abroad. At the United Nations, we have strongly supported efforts to codify and enshrine the promise of equality for the LGBT community, and the President’s action adds yet more force to our urgent fight.

Since taking office in 2009, the Obama Administration has worked tirelessly within the UN system to advance the human rights of the world’s LGBT persons. Early on, we signed the UN General Assembly’s Statement on Sexual Orientation on Gender Identity. We joined the LGBT Core Groups in Geneva and New York. We won NGO consultative status for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. We championed the first UN resolution dedicated to advancing the basic and fundamental rights of LGBT persons. Last December, on Human Rights Day, we pledged to restore language including LGBT individuals in a resolution condemning extrajudicial killings. Within two weeks, we did so.

There is far more work to do before our LGBT friends, neighbors, parents and children live in a world free of discrimination. Through steadfast defense of our universal values, persistent engagement with international partners, and the full force of U.S. efforts under the law, we will get there. I look forward to continuing our work and proudly carrying out the President’s directive.

While as an activist on the issue I am deeply grateful to the President and Sec Clinton,  but I cannot help but allude to a recent conversation I had with David Bahati, the member of the Ugandan parliament currently seeking to pass the Ugandan Anti-homosexuality Bill  (the Kill-The -Gays -Bill.) Bahati asked me a poignant question: “surely if your country (USA)  thought being gay is okay, you would have laws that protect gays and not laws that work against gays?”

This is a time when we as LGBT Activists should be thanking President Obama for his foreign policy abroad, and at the same time  insisting that  the President clean house at home as a show that we mean business abroad:

Repealing DOMA is now a matter of  significant urgency.  The Defense of Marriage Act must be repealed. We must participate in the repair of the insidious human rights violations to our own citizens and residents before our international voice can speak with true validity.

DOMA denies same-sex couples the basic federal benefits that other married or engaged US couples receive.  President Obama and Secretary Clinton have stated in this foreign policy that the right to love is a human right. Yet DOMA denies that right as it flagrantly separates same-sex couples who have partners in foreign nations.

One such right denied binational LGBT couples  is the right to sponsor a spouse or bring a fiance into the USA on a special fiance VISA.  Thousands of US citizens and residents are currently separated from loved ones who cannot enter the USA because of the restrictive nature of DOMA.

Surely President OBAMA should fix house as a matter of urgency to bolster his reprimand to other Nations?

While the president has ordered that LGBT spouses should not be deported – he has done nothing to assist those who remain separated on foreign shores.  Over two years ago I drafted a Petition for a special VISA on change.org to help such couples. It would be great to see someone in Congress take some forward thinking action.

However nothing can derogate from the immediate need to repeal DOMA, especially in the interests of our binational LGBTI couples.

CALL TO ACTION: Support the Respect for Marriage Act and Repeal DOMA and in the meantime tell your Congressional Reps to get creative and issue special VISAS for LGBT Fiance’s. Is this Human Rights? One of many stories – this one appeared without solicitation on the Petition I started over a year ago:

My partner of 10 years was taken away Jan 22 two and a half years ago and then deported. The day they put him on a plane he lost all rights. He has no criminal record. I am a AF verteran. The immigration judge signed a stay of deportation one hour too late. ICE knew that the legal papers were on the judges desk via communication from our local office of Congress and supported by our Senator. They did not care. I have spent my retirement savings, 401K, everything on attempting to get him a Humanitarian Visa to return to the US from Guatemala. He has been robbed several times, once by gunpoint, extortionists have targeted him and his remaining relatives. He was brought here at 14 with his other 9 siblings by his mother to escape the genicide supported by the USA. He is the poster child of NACARA but with one exception. He tried to do the right thing in 1989 and was denied in the courts. I have to wonder if that was the wrong thing to do. The rest of his family are now residents or citizens because they hid in the shadows until NACARA was signed by President Clinton. The 10’s of thousands of dollars spent on attorney’s…….the stress on our families and extended families………Please understand that lawyers run this county. Even the President and his wife are attornys. I pray for all of us who are being persecuted by the lack of justice. I am not proud of the counrty I live in for turning 911 into an opportunity for hate crimes against a world of hard working families and destroying these same families. I am in my 50’s so I will not likely recover the $$$ to retire before I die. Please, sign this.

PLEASE SIGN

PLEASE SIGN PETITION FOR INTERIM REMEDY; http://www.change.org/petitions/special-visa-for-binational-lgbt-spouse

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MORE WRITTEN By Melanie Nathan – TODAY

http://oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/usa-gay-lesbian-advocates-applaud-geneva-speech-of-secretary-of-state-clinton/

and

http://oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/obama-orders-far-reaching-pro-gay-foreign-policy/

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8 Comments on “LGBT Foreign Policy Applauded AND Human Rights should Start at Home with Fiance Visas and Greencards for Same-sex Couples”

  1. Graham Adams December 6, 2011 at 4:31 PM #

    My husband and I have been together for 13 years. We have lived in exile from the US for 7 years. We are legal Civil Partners in the UK and have just had our fiance visa application denied in the US – Reason given – DOMA! The marriage issue is hard for those facing separation in the United States, but for many binationals living in exile from our families, we don not have the benefit of being in the country we call home to fight this battle. Those of us living overseas appear to have a tiny voice in the whole binational scenario. I am thrilled for those who are able to remain together in the US, no matter how hard the future may be, but for those of us forced into exile, we have already been torn from our families and the fight seems ever so much harder! Although we all face the same issues, those still able to live in the US at least have their support network of friends and families. Those of us in exile are forced to abandon our families, sell our homes, leave our jobs. We give up everything we have ever had and worked hard for, yet we appear to be the overlooked minority of DOMA’s casualties!

    • Janice December 8, 2011 at 12:21 PM #

      Graham,
      I totally agree with you. I am a British citizen living with my U.S. citizen partner in the U.S. I came here on a student visa, and have been lucky enough to have the last 6 years with her. However, all too soon that will come to an end, and if I can’t find a job that is willing to sponsor me, I too will have to leave. I don’t know if it will be possible when that time comes for my partner to leave too as she has family here that she would be loathe to leave. Because I have spent many many thousands of dollars in tuition fees here, even being able to live in Britain will be an extremely difficult situation to find myself in. It has been a costly gamble, but isn’t that what you do for love?

      Neither of us has any intention of breaking the law by me becoming illegal when my time runs out. I am happy for those who have not been torn apart through recent court decisions, but what about those of us who have behaved ourselves and done everything we’ve been told to do? Where is our amnesty?

      We have been engaged to be married for the last 5 years, but if we were to be married I would be running the risk of being deported because the conditions of acquiring a temporary visa bars you from showing any so called ‘intent to stay’. Getting married would be seen as intent to stay, even though gay and lesbian binational couples cannot go the path of permanent residency for the foreign spouse.

      As Jerrold Nadler has said many times, DOMA is a cruel law. It breaks the hearts of those it negatively affects. I hope, and pray, that it won’t be long before this whole situation is resolved, and we binationals can at last live in peace with our loved ones, and be able to build our lives together in the way that our heterosexual friends can.

  2. Carrie Tucker-Pollard December 6, 2011 at 5:04 PM #

    An important day, but I, too, am troubled by the lack of movement toward true equality here in the US. We bi-nationals remain the minority of a minority that so few even realize exist. We do all we can to bring attention to the horrid inequity we face as we live, unfairly separated from the one person in our lives we need most. When I think about the principles on which our country was founded, I know this must change.
    Thank you for all you do for us. Very good post!

  3. Val Kalende December 6, 2011 at 11:59 PM #

    As a Ugandan LGBT activist I welcome Secretary Clinton’s speech with great hope for the future. However, I am greatly concerned that while her poignant speech is a straight message to the government of Uganda and the movers of the Kill the Gays bill that they can no longer get a free pass for human rights violations committed against LGBT citizens, it worries me so much that it is still not possible for me to get full protection in the United States- a would-be safe haven for my partner and I. While my partner is now a US resident, it pains me to know that as a bi-national couple we cannot live here together legally. So my question is, given this great speech that is in a way bound to stir up more homophobic sentiments among locals in my country, what is the Obama administration going to do for African LGBT couples for whom asylum is not an option? Now, I know that as an international student in the US, my student visa gives me more time to stay around my partner for as long as I am in school. In a way this works to my advantage but I am worried about millions of LGBT couples around the world who are denied the basic right of being reunited with their spouses in the US. Surely this new foreign policy measure will only be successful if the juxtaposition of it is in concert with the much needed; long overdue; tardy domestic policy on bi-national couples.

    • oblogdeeoblogda December 7, 2011 at 7:42 AM #

      Val its a great honor that you comment on my site. Your point is well made and of great importance. You are well loved by us as an effective Ugandan activist for LGBT people. How ironic. This is a perfect example of where the American is being discriminated against in the USA. Your partner cannot sponsor you for a green card in the simple way a different gender partner can and so you have to go through complex hoops to stay in the country that is probably so much more expensive. Your partner deserves to be treated the same as other Americans. So your question is, “given this great speech that is in a way bound to stir up more homophobic sentiments among locals in my country, what is the Obama administration going to do for African LGBT couples for whom asylum is not an option?” That is the point of the VISA which I drafted some years ago and the subject of my Petition. Lets work together to keep the pressure on the Obama admin for the repeal of DOMA and also for some interim measures such as special visas to honor the human rights of couples such as you and your partner, here at home in America.

  4. Janice December 8, 2011 at 11:34 AM #

    I applaud what has been said by Hillary Clinton, but what about us here in the U.S.? All great sentiments and intentions by this administration, but how can you state this when your own house isn’t in order?
    When are we going to see an end to our own inequality?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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