Immigration Equality begs on backs of binationals | Failed strategy has its remedy in death of DOMA

Begging for money to fund a failed strategy for immigration inclusiveness is a waste of time, money and resources | It is too late because even if UAFA is included in CIR, it will be the demise of DOMA that get binational spouses their green cards.

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Immigration Equality has always described itself as the preeminent LGBT organization and the one and only LGBT group in the leader position to deal with immigration issues for LGBT people in the U.S.A:

“Immigration Equality is the first and only organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to achieving full equality for LGBT and HIV-positive immigrants.  We pioneered the field of LGBT/HIV immigration law and helped win major policy victories including ending the ban on immigration and travel for people with HIV. …  Immigration Equality focuses its legal services in three main areas:  recognition for binational (American/foreign national) families, detention, and asylum”

They have taken it upon themselves to make the definitive strategy for immigration issues involving LGBT Americans. And failed binational same-sex couples.

When it came to same-sex couples in binational relationships, they have done more harm than good, by invoking a bad strategy, predictable failure. They pursued Comprehensive Immigration reform as the only mechanism for the passage of UAFA, which should have been pursued as a stand alone bill. They failed to initially consult the other stakeholders or grass root activists and in essence three people in a small organization, made the decision to hook UAFA to Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Since 2009, all the LGBT groups fell into the failed strategy, lock step with IE, and now all must take responsibility for the failure and injustice suffered by binational same-sex couples.

However instead, IE has the audacity to suggest that you, the LGBT groups and binational / grassroot community, continue to fund their failure. They are asking you for donations and to show up and pay for a lobby day to beg for inclusion in legislation that may no longer be necessary and by virtue of its out-date, may in fact serve only to cause a lot of confusion.

This week the so called bipartisan “Gang of 8” Senators came up with a Comprehensive Immigration Reform and predictably and despite 4 years of lobbying by Immigration Equality, the ‘Gang of Eight’ excluded UAFA, the legislation that will allow permanent partners to sponsor foreign partners for green cards.

This was predictable. See my October 2009 Article reprinted below.

If  DOMA is ruled unconstitutional in June by SCOTUS, which is highly likely, then UAFA will not be necessary, anyway, as same-sex couples who are married and who get married, will be entitled to obtain green cards for their  foreign spouses.

In the unlikely event that DOMA does not die in the next few months, then and only then should UAFA be pursued, and not as an immigration bill, but as a stand alone EQUALITY bill.

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For four years not a single LGBT organization stood up to Immigration Equality and all watched us being ‘sold down’ the old proverbial and obvious river. Now they want you to beg for something you will not need in a matter of months. Let me ask you this why?

The answer is obvious. When DOMA dies, binationals will no longer need Immigration Equality and their fund raising efforts will have very little impetus on the mainstream of our community. Most are less inclined to fund the issue of asylum, and more inclined to fund the issue of equality. Immigration equality will loose its LGBT core relevance in a matter of months and they are scrambling. “This is the last standing for the dying stompie” (Stompie = cigarette butt.)

This is what happened:

Immigration Equality (IE) messed up UAFA for binational couples starting 2009, when they lost the ONLY opportunity to pursue it as a high profile stand alone Bill. Shirley Tan had just given evidence at the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing for Uniting American Familes Act and on that very day Immigration Equality purposefully ignored its momentum and decided, without any discussion with the other LGBT organizations, that it was BOSS of all our immigration equality rights, and hitched UAFA to Comprehensive immigration reform.

They should never have hitched the Bill onto Immigration Reform (CIR) in the first place. The other LGBT organizations, who barely engaged in advocacy for UAFA at the time, despite the historic Senate Judiciary hearing in June 2009, followed their lead lockstep without any expression of concern and without any collaboration at the time. The UAFA had so many cosponsors and there was a chance to clean the bill up for a lame duck Congress, in 2010. IE was warned in 2009 that this day would come when the same-sex binational couples would be pawns only to be thrown under the bus.

IN any event, UAFA is not without flaws and Immigration Equality and legislators have failed to clean it up over the past 4 years, since Senator Feisntein made it clear that her refusal to cosponsor the UAFA was based on its inadequacies, such as a legal nexus between Permanent Partners.  Once married couples can benefit and get green cards from the demise of DOMA, under the federal law, the very basis for the Bill and the “permanent partner”  language becomes complex and confusing.  Yet, some organizations are still trying to lobby Feinstein for co sponsorship, without for one second looking at or remedying her legitimate concerns. What happened to UAFA over the past 4 years? Nothing – no lobbying and no fixing! Of course they are scrambling now to make it relevant. But it is too late.

Now fortunately DOMA’s demise will give couples who initially thought the only relief would be through UAFA.  Be warned of the ploy – Immigration Equality and any other group that is asking for money donations around UAFA are doing it to stay relevant through this dying issue and to get money out of you. Give your money where it is well spent.

Here is one of many old articles, circa 2009-  showing  that Immigration Equality was warned of their impending screw up:

“Pass the Uniting American Families Act” and I say now! (2009)

By Melanie Nathan, October 21, 2009.

The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) of 2009,  would grant same-sex couples the same immigration benefits — and responsibilities — as opposite-sex couples, under the same existing legal framework.  It is cosponsored by 22 senators and 117 members of the House of Representatives and has the support of a diverse coalition of businesses and civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, the American Bar Association and the Anti-Defamation League. In highlighting some of the hardships, the article should be read, and more importantly the comments that appear thereafter.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)   reflect on the legislation introduced to what they refer to as “to right the  wrong”.   The words of both Senators appear in a jointly authored article appearing in publication  –  ”THE HLL” today.

“We must change the law to end the gratuitous cruelty being imposed  thousands of couples  around the country. We urge Congress to incorporate UAFA into the forthcoming comprehensive immigration reform. No immigration reform we enact can be truly comprehensive unless it also addresses this deprivation of the civil rights of bi-national families. There is no rational reason to continue this discriminatory treatment. It is long past time that Congress did something about it.”

I for one have always feared that UAFA will take a back seat if not a stand alone bill through the hitching of it to Comprehensive Immigration Reform. While I understand and truly appreciate the Senator and Congressman’s plea for inclusion in CIR, I fear that this may derogate from the work that still needs to be done to sweeten UAFA  and pass it as a stand alone, this year.

My own comments, together with the very valuable input by Lavi Soloway, founder of Immigration Equality,  are noted in the posting’s comment section. I for one believe that if organizations such as Immigration Equality worked directly with the Senator and Congressman, they could forward UAFA.  Instead IE has nailed their hat onto the Comprehensive Immigration reform hat stand.    This action could have served well to compliment out4immigrations letter writing campaign, but again we find our organizations’  inability to unite in strategy.

What I find most interesting is the Article’s heading – “PASS THE UNITING AMERICAN FAMILES ACT” and so I hold hope that Senator Leahy and Rep. Jerrold Nadler will continue to lead and motivate to achieve this ultimate goal.  I am still urging Immigration Equality to work on the underlying impediments to UAFA with Senator Leahy and Rep. Nadler. Please work on the Feinstein concern – the underlying contractual nexus issue – it is the ultimate key to passage and you have known this since 2007.

I am calling on all Gay and Lesbian and Bisexual and Transgender communities to appeal urgently to your representatives to help those who are suffering now.  Those who are about to leave their homes for countries abroad.  I have 25 cases on my list right now of people facing this huge challenge – who are set for exile in the coming months and it is plain wrong!  Some have aging parents, one has a heart ailment;  these Americans are being forced to leave the US to be with their loved ones at great cost.  Its a civil rights and a human rights abomination and American Law is the culprit.  It must change and I for one am intolerant of the fact that they are being asked to wait for Comprehensive Immigration reform when in fact they are the subject of discrimination and inequality that has nothing to do with Comprehensive immigration reform.

If you want to learn more about how to effectively advocate, contact


By Melanie Nathan, of Private Courts Inc.  An Advocacy and Conflict Resolution Firm. and  

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6 Comments on “Immigration Equality begs on backs of binationals | Failed strategy has its remedy in death of DOMA”

  1. daveinsf April 21, 2013 at 3:39 AM #

    For the most part you are right on with your analysis. Immigration Equality, like other groups such as the HRC and GLAAD. Seem to be more focused on fundraising for the fight for equality than actually winning it.

    Yet one fact needs to be pointed out, the Windsor case only deals with Section 3 of DOMA. The rest of the law stays in place which means that even if the court rules in our favor it still won’t help thousands of bi-national couples because our legal. Unions are not called “Marriages”.

    Here in the UK like in 19 other countries its called a Civil Partnership, Civil Union or Domestic Partner Registration. As long as the rest of DOMA is on the books the federal Government can and must still discriminate against couples in anything not called a “Marriage”. Including, couples in places like illinois and the 8 other states with either Civil Unions or Domestic Partnerships.

    Immigration reform is the best route to close this bigotry loophole as the court is only looking at at one section of DOMA.

    I agree with you that Gay Rights Inc. Has done far more fundraising than actually helping

    • Melanie Nathan April 21, 2013 at 9:43 AM #

      Well of course any binational same-sex couples that want parity under the law to the extent it is available must go and get married, to ensure a green card. So if yu have a civil union somewhere – show up in NYC or Seattle or Canada and get the certainty you need – get a certificate that calls it marriage. It may still be unfair, and more expensive to expect gay couples to leave home to get married elsewhere, however I would suggest everyone show up in NYC or Seattle or wherever legal and get married – with the word spouse attached.

      Of course the only real advocacy route would be a quest for full equality, even beyond marriage in every US State. But as long as remedies exist those are the ones Binational couples must go after.

      UAFA will help the people you speak of, but it will cause a great deal of confusion and many couples will be rejected under accusations of fraud, and some may be asked “Why did you not get MARRIED” when you could get married etc.- if they are unable to prove the contractual nexus. I believe UAFA should ONLY be pursued as a stand alone Bill after it has been subjected to some amendments to update it with changes in the law. It can be used as a tool of equality for those who do not have full access to marriage – yet it is being used incorrectly while they try and hitch it to CIR at this time. It is an evolving issue and IE and others have failed to keep it in proper play,


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