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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

No Way Out: Bi-national, Same-Sex Couples

People are NOT Created Equally
Photo Credit: Jon Feingersh, Getty Images

Steve Orner does not receive the same immigration rights as others. He was forced to sell his home and his family was torn apart. He lost a loved one, who was forced to return to Indonesia. But there's nothing he can do about it.

Orner, a gay American citizen, was unable to sponsor his partner for legal permanent residency. He is just one of approximately 35,820 bi-national, same-sex couples living in the United States in 2000, according to U.S. Census data reported by the Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international organization for human rights.

The Price of Love
Photo Credit: Plus Studios/DH Hong Kong, Getty Images

An unnamed man said in "Family, Unvalued," a publication of the HRW, "The U.S. government does not want to acknowledge that homosexuals are entitled to be happy, just as any human beings…Now that I have finally found my soul mate, the U.S. government wants to tell me that I do not have the right to be with him. If immigration laws don't change in the near future, I will be leaving the United States, even if that means being unemployed and living in misery. At least I'll be with the one I love."

Love: Your Country v. Your Partner

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Hamilton, Getty Images

Because of restrictive immigration laws, couples are oftentimes forced to choose between their country and their partner.Approximately 19 nations give same-sex couples the right to petition for their partner, but why doesn't the United States?

Why is there no protection?
Photo Credit: Patrick Lane, Getty Images

The reason these bi-national couples do not qualify for any form of immigration benefits is simply due to the Defense Against Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA defines marriage between a man and a woman; therefore, immigration law is not applicable to even those who were legally married in U.S. territories. U.S. citizens cannot petition for their same-sex partner to receive any form of immigration benefits.

Evaluating Options
Aliens are able to apply for asylum on the basis of sexual orientation based on the matter of Toboso-Alfonso, which was decided in 1994. A national organization known as Immigration Equality has published a handbook to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and HIV-positive individuals apply for asylum.

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Hamilton, Getty Images

Taking Action
Photo Credit: Roy Hsu, Getty Images

Immigration Equality is a leading national organization that is working to end discrimination in immigration law, specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and HIV-positive individuals.


  1. Great article -- I didn't realize same-sex couples didn't have the same rights as hetereosexual couples for immigration. Thanks for shedding some light.

  2. Since it is the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.............................................