Is undocumented immigration a gay issue?

There’s a new Web site, Out4Citizenship, that presents immigration reform – specifically, the issue of undocumented immigrants – as a gay/trans issue.

The site says that 267,000 of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants are LGBT (I’ve heard the numbers of total undocumented immigrants  as much as five times that high, but let’s use that number for now).

When you do the math, 267,000 is 2.4% of 11 million.  It’s a fair guess that they used the conservative number for the number of gay, or LGBT, people in the country and extrapolated from there.

But is immigration a gay issue?  And does that determination even matter?

There’s a good argument to be had that progressives should support all progressive issues, period.  So it wouldn’t matter if the issue of undocumented immigrants (in contrast to UAFA)  is a gay issue.  It’s a good issue, it’s a progressive issue, and all progressives should support it.

Gay & trans contingent at the huge immigration rally a few years back in Washington, DC.

Gay & trans contingent at the huge immigration rally a few years back in Washington, DC.

It’s also not a bad argument to say that even if L, G, B and T people are only 3% or 6% or whatever of the population, when you’re talking about such a large number of undocumented people, a large number of gay and trans people who are undocumented will benefit from any legislative fix on the issue overall.  And if the number is as high as several hundred thousand, that’s not insignificant.

And as noted above, the issue of foreign-born gays marrying American gays and not having their marriages recognized by the US government, thus the foreign-born spouse gets deported, is clearly a “gay” issue.  One that is addressed by the UAFA legislation which is having a difficult time gaining traction with Senate Democrats. And perhaps that’s enough right there to make “gay” and “immigration” sister issues.

Though I would hope that any involvement of gay groups in the immigration reform campaign would include a demand that UAFA be included in any immigration reform agreement, no ifs ands or buts. And maybe that’s why the gay groups are involved – as a quid pro quo: Gay groups fight for immigration reform, and immigration groups promise that they’ll only agree to an immigration reform deal that includes UAFA.  That wouldn’t be an unwise move at all, and it’s the pinnacle of coalition politics where we all win.

And all of this may be a nuance without a difference, but I still think it’s a good idea to step back and think a bit when people tie their issues to our issues.  If the simple definition of a gay issue is any issue that has L, G, B and T people impacted by it, then every issue is a gay issue, because gay people are quite literally everywhere.  For example, funding for Multiple Sclerosis affects the percentage of gay people that have Multiple Sclerosis, or know someone with it.  Military funding affects gay people in the military.  Farm subsidies affect gay farmers. Tax reform affects all gay people, since we all pay taxes.

That’s certainly not to minimize the importance of immigration as an issue. Nor does it minimize the importance of several hundred thousand undocumented LGBT people being helped by immigration reform.  But it is an interesting question as to when issues are good progressive issues we all should help on, and when they’re “gay” issues – though, as already mentioned, perhaps even if there is a difference, it doesn’t really matter.

Though, it does matter to the degree to which gay groups are asked to weigh in on the issue. No organization, whether HRC, NGLTF, GLAAD or pick your favorite gay group, can devote staff time to every single issue out there that might affect some gay people – they always have to triage their limited staff and limited budget dollars.  So the question still will arise as to which issues these groups should devote staff time, lobbying, money to, and which they shouldn’t.

That’s not to say that gay groups can’t sign on to larger sister-campaigns on other non-gay progressive issues – they do, and they should.  But if they’re being asked to do more, being asked to lobby, being asked to spend money, then it’s fair to sit down and think through whether any issue, as meritorious as it is, is the appropriate domain for a gay group to spend money and staff time on.

In the worst case, you have situations like what happened with GLAAD and AT&T, when GLAAD appeared to have been bought by the telecom giant to work on telecom issues under  the guise of “it’s a gay issue,” when it wasn’t.  There was a similar problem that arose when NGLTF got involved in the gaming issue in Maryland, at the secret behest of gambling interests.

That’s not to suggest that either story has anything to do with our work on undocumented immigration.  It does show, however, why it’s always a good reason to ask questions.  We all learn through these kind of open discussion, and all the issues involved, theirs and ours, benefit as a result.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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50 Responses to “Is undocumented immigration a gay issue?”

  1. Queer Guy in Chicago says:

    This op-ed brings up good points, but asks the wrong question. Do national gay lobby groups need to be responsible with their budgets? Yes. Does that discussion have anything to do with the intersections and common fight of the gay and undocumented community? No. gay lobby groups aren’t the gay liberation movement, and should not be conflated as such.

    The reality is that there is no question that immigration reform is an imperative for the gay community. The fact that LGBT Americans cannot petition their same-sex partner for immigration purposes makes immigration reform a gay issue. The fact that LGBTQ people are being mistreated and violated in immigrant jails makes immigration a gay issue. The fact that HIV+ queer folks in detention centers are being denied medicine makes immigration a gay issue.

    We have to break out of the mold and not allow national lobby groups in DC to dictate our community’s priorities. That’s how trans folks get left out of the HRC’s agenda, and how our queer sisters and brothers who happen to be undocumented get thrown under the bus. As queer folks we have to be all in for immigration reform, no ifs ands or buts.

  2. Skeptical Cicada says:

    AMEN!

  3. BemInBoston says:

    What good are these “grassroots” alliances if they don’t bear fruit when we need them to — like NOW for binational couples. Immigration won’t get touched again for a generation after this Spring. Your statement on DOMA is just not accurate — if there were no DOMA, binational couples could only be eligible for green card sponsorship in the small group of states with marriage equality. UAFA would cover the entire country. I’m a citizen too. I pay my damned taxes. I do not support a straights-only immigration bill that does not include by family. That’s not “comprehensive.”

  4. BemInBoston says:

    Working together has never worked. You think DADT would have gone down when it did if we weren’t getting in Obama’s grill at every opportunity? You think Obama would have had a pleasant summer trying to campaign and raise money with a bunch of queers shouting him down at every opportunity if he didn’t get right on marriage equality? No. The only thing that works is pressure. And money. And Chuck Schumer is going to be losing some big gay money.

  5. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Gay groups do not work on parking tickets, even though some gays get parking tickets, because parking tickets aren’t a gay issue.

  6. Skeptical Cicada says:

    YES! YES! YES!

    But there are a bunch of archaic collaborationist homosexuals like Matt Foreman who are too terrified to ever have the gay community exert pressure on Dems.

  7. Skeptical Cicada says:

    You ARE being thrown under the bus, and people like Matt Foreman are telling the gay community to cheer while you’re being thrown under there. Don’t listen to a word that pig says.

  8. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Foreman is dissembling. What he’s refusing to mention is that when the reform bill without UAFA makes immigration enforcement draconian, things will be much WORSE for bi-national couples than they are now. THAT, dear Matt, is a reason for gay folks to vigorously oppose a bill that does not address bi-national couples.

    One of the early bills? WTF is he babbling about? There will be ONE bill that passes. Either bi-national couples are IN, or they are SCREWED.

    Foreman’s “unity” garbage is nothing but disingenuous spin with the ulterior motive of convincing gay folks to support a gay-exclusionary bill that actively HARMS the interests of bi-national gay couples.

    He always been a hack with no credibility to speak for the gay community.

  9. BemInBoston says:

    I’m skeptical that national immigration groups will stand up for binantional couples, though, if an amendment is not added. I am a huge supporter of Immigration Equality, but it does not bode well that at the beginning of the process we already have the 4 leading Dems in the Senate throwing us under the bus.

  10. BemInBoston says:

    This is helpful, though the point on DOMA, I think, is not entirely true. If DOMA didn’t exist, that would only help binational couples in 9 states + DC. It wouldn’t help binational couples elsewhere (UAFA would have an effect nation-wide).

  11. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Yes, and it’s appalling! Schumer has never been trustworthy on gay rights. He’s still whining about not getting endorsed by HRC in his first Senate run because told HRC he wouldn’t vote against DOMA even though he’s from New York.

    If you read Foreman closely, he doesn’t care whether the bill includes bi-national gay couples or not. All his arguments are carefully tailored to try to paint immigration as a gay issue even without bi-national gay couples. The fact that the reform bill will tighten enforcement and make things even more untenable for bi-national gay couples makes no difference to Foreman. He’s spewing a left-wing party line.

  12. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Right.

  13. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Matt Foreman doesn’t have any credibility to speak to what is and what is not a gay issue. He was adamant that somehow abortion is a gay issue. I can’t imagine something that is less a gay issue and more a heterosexual issue than abortion.

    What Foreman’s derisive and condescending mockery at the end of his comment is designed to conceal is that what he has always wanted is to merge the gay-rights movement with a whole slate of left-wing movements having little or nothing at all to do with gay rights.

    Every interest group focuses on the issues within its mission. It is not behaving like “selfish children” for gay groups to focus on the issues which are the very reason for their existence in the first place! We already have a NOW, an NAACP, a Sierra Club, etc. We don’t need gay groups running around diverting scarce resources to issues that OTHER groups are already more than adequately handling. No one else is going to rush in and do gay-rights work.

    The entire gay community does not reside on the extreme left, Foreman. Get over it.

  14. BemInBoston says:

    We forced lgbt inclusion in the re-authorization of VAWA. They’d swallow this too, if our “allies” forced them too. Time for Dems to learn how to play hardball. While we all want comprehensive immigration, from a political standpoint it sure is something the Rs need more than the Ds.

  15. BemInBoston says:

    They’ll only get recognition if DOMA goes down and if they live in a state with marriage equality. So, good luck if you live in Alabama . . .

  16. BemInBoston says:

    I’m one of the ugly-stepchildren. There are only about 40,000 of us in the country and I fear that we are getting thrown under the bus by both erstwhile allies like Democratic senators and by national immigration groups. We’ve been marching for years with Immigration Equality hand in hand with immigration groups — we better be included. It’s the right thing to do and there will not be another opportunity to do this for a generation. (Yes, if DOMA goes down, that will help some, but not couples living in the 41 states without marriage equality).

  17. BemInBoston says:

    I’m sorry but I just read that Senators Schumer, Durbin, Menendez, and Bennet have thrown me and my foreign-born husband under the bus. It’s going to be hard for me to be behind a “straights-only” immigration bill if my family is not included. WTF. Schumer has been promising for years that lgbt couples would be included in “comprehensive” immigration reform, but while he talks a good talk on equality, his actions speak much louder than words. My husband and I have been together for nearly 6 years, yet we still have to juggle visas and worry about the day when we’ll have to self-deport.

  18. amos lim says:

    Just to be clear, I am not saying leave out binational couples, they absolutely MUST be included in CIR. Because when we talk about family reunification, we must make sure that family also includes LGBT Families.

    I am however trying to continue the conversation John started about whether it is an LGBT issue…. There are approximately 900K LGBT immigrants, of which 267K are undocumented and 48K are binational couples, so this issues impacts us no matter how you slice it!

    There is actually a lot of discussion going on pushing for an inclusive CIR. Lots of grassroots and national organization pushing for our inclusion. Our inclusion has support of faith leaders, API civic organizations etc etc.

    President Obama has already included us in his immigration framework and on numerous occasion has reiterated the importance of our inclusion. That said, he wants congress to introduce their bills and take action first or he will push his bill.

    He has also honored Judy Rickard, a same sex binational couple and author of the book, Torn Apart, as a Champion of Change (http://www.whitehouse.gov/champions/immigration-reform/judy-rickard) for her efforts as an Immigration Reformer and she appeared on a panel at the White House speaking about Immigration Reform and also blogged about it on the white house blog (http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/03/29/were-not-illegal-were-not-immoral-were-not-them-we-are-all-us).

    So I do not think it is right to say he is not focusing on the bill since he has made numerous comments over the past month demanding congress come up with a bill. He has consistently shone a light on our plight and our issues.

    We know that the Senate gang of 8 did not include LGBT families (couples) in their framework and we will probably know next week when the bill is introduced. We need to keep the pressure on them to make sure we do not get thrown under the bus. Whether we are included in the original bill or added as an amendment, there is always a risk that we will be taken out (Note what happened to VAWA) and we just need to keep the pressure up to make sure they don’t.

    There is a national day of action for comprehensive immigration reform happening in DC and across the country next week and IE is also holding their lobby day next week. In San Francisco, the national day of action will start in front of Senator Feinstein’s office and then we will march to Civic Center demanding a FAIR, INCLUSIVE, HUMANE CIR. (https://www.facebook.com/events/232637360208772/)

    Still angry and pissed off and raise hell but don’t give up! We need all the voices out there to make sure we are not thrown under the bus….

  19. Skeptical Cicada says:

    I haven’t heard much of anything either, except that Schumer, speaking for the Gang of However Many, was extremely dismissive in declaring that the Senate bill would NOT address bi-national gay couples.

    Obama then said it should, but he isn’t pushing his alternative bill.

    Last account I had, we were being instructed by Dems that the bill won’t have the language but that we can try to add it in committee or on the floor.

    Usual Democratic backstabbing. Instead of 60 votes to REMOVE the language, WE’LL have to get 60 votes to ADD it.

    In other words, DEAD as the Assault Weapons Ban. But 48 Democratic Senators get to vote for a vain amendment and pound their chests about how pro-gay they are. Fuck them!

  20. Yes, the Undocuqueers are leading the way for both queer identified folk and open boarders.

  21. zorbear says:

    Drat! I hadn’t considered that — now I have to worry about ducks flying overhead…

  22. I would like to hear more about what the plan is to get UAFA included as part of immigration reform. I feel like I’m not hearing much about UAFA at all, in all of this discussion. Which was part of what motivated me to write the post, and ask some questions. I’m still getting the sense that it’s been minimized, or glossed over, a bit in all of this.

  23. Thanks, this is helpful. Even though some folks never like it, I’ve always felt it’s important to have a healthy discussion about things like this, especially on issues a lot of progressives (most probably) actually do care about – such as immigration. It helps reaffirm support from those who are already there, and helps to answer questions, and garner supporter, from those who have questions. I will say that it’s an interesting point – if this is what you meant – that becoming a more visible part of the immigration reform community helps us get our other issues, such as UAFA, addressed in the long run because the rest of the immigration reform movement will hopefully more strongly identify with us and our issues as well. Very interesting, thanks.

    Oh, and don’t worry, we’ve always helped on this issue, and will in the future.

  24. Skeptical Cicada says:

    No, it is not enough that “we are part of the fabric of America. We are everywhere.” If that determines what is a gay issue then EVERYTHING is a gay issue–everything from pancreatic cancer to the space program! But everything is NOT a gay issue.

    As I’ve said below, I think immigration reform is a gay issue, for some of the reasons you mention. But it is not a gay issue merely because some undocumented immigrants are gay. It is a gay issue only because of binational couples and because undocumented gays are specially and disproportionately harmed as gays.

    A major problem will arise, however, if Schumer et al. proceed with their bill, which refuses to address bi-national couples. We will face a dilemma. “Comprehensive” reform that doesn’t address bi-national couples will simultaneously help some undocumented gays by creating a path to legal status but will harm bi-national couples by making their plight worse under increased enforcement. In that case, it is not so easy to discern what the “gay” position should be.

    The leading proposal–Schumer–is currently NOT inclusive, and if we’re forced by Schumer et al. to amend it on the Senate floor, it WON’T be inclusive.

  25. amos lim says:

    John, UAFA has always been an LGBT issue only because of DOMA. If Clinton had not signed or Congress had not passed DOMA, we will not be struggling to get traction on UAFA. That said, Immigration Reform is an LGBT issue simply because we are part of the fabric of America. We are everywhere.

    We have couples who are forced to go underground because the partner’s visa had run out and if he/she/they flee back to their home country, their lives will be in danger because of homophobia – so they become undocumented.

    We have kids being brought into this country when they are young so the parents could provide a better life for them. The kids are all grown up now, found out they are undocumented and realize that they are LGBT too, and they need a solution.

    We have an asylum law here that has a one year bar which is arbitrary. Most people who flee their country to come here suffer some kind of PTSD because they have been harassed and persecuted for their sexual orientation. When they come into this country, their first action is to survive and find help… most do not realize they have a one year ban, so they realize a bit too late that they have been “timed out” when they apply for asylum.

    There are couples I know who have gotten approvals for green card (from company sponsorship) but is just waiting for their “numbers” to be called so they will finally get the physical green card in their hand… but if they lose their jobs, everything falls apart… so we also need to address the huge backlogs issues. (Rep Mike Honda has introduced a bill the Reuniting Families Act to address that).

    And don’t get me started about ICE Detention Facilities which negatively impacts LGBT Detainees and their health care needs.

    I could go on and on… but I think you get what I am trying to say.

    I have been working on this issue personally for many years and have co-founded a grassroots all volunteer organization, Out4Immigration, to empower individuals to speak up and speak out…. For a long time, we have gotten resistance from both the Immigrant Community and LGBT community, because each did not feel that we are part of their issue…. but things have started changing…

    We are starting to see more people in the Immigrant Community supporting our inclusion because they see us as part of their family, they identify with the struggles we have to go through everyday just to stay together, just to be with our family, whether you are a binational couple, or an undocumented immigrant. The LGBT Community has also come around, but I still feel resistance in the ground. I still get the “why don’t you just go to New York, Washington, etc etc to get married” question. I still get the “I have worked hard to play by the rules to keep my partner here and I don’t think we should be awarding undocumented immigrants a green card and have them delayed my partner/spouse green card process because the lines and the backlogs will get longer.”

    I am glad we are having this conversation, and I really hope the community will rally together with the immigrant community to get an INCLUSIVE Comprehensive Immigration Reform passed this year that includes ALL families!! And we definitely need your support behind it to help us push this issue….

  26. Skeptical Cicada says:

    I agree entirely, including with your conclusions about breast cancer being a gay issue and abortion not being one.

  27. Naja pallida says:

    The simple fact is, undocumented immigrants have no real voice in this country, because if they speak up and identify themselves, they will immediately not only be discriminated against, but can also find themselves imprisoned, and/or deported. So it falls on advocacy groups that don’t have that fear to speak for them. To tell their stories. To explain what their needs are. It is a large and diverse group of people, despite what Republicans would have us think. It really results in immigration issues having ties to almost every other progressive issue in some way, and a discriminatory immigration policy could be just as harmful as the poor immigration policy we currently have. Immigration has an impact on labor, on taxation, on education, on health care, on national security, etc, etc. And another major thing it does impact is families. So we need something comprehensive, which takes as many variables into concern as possible.

  28. Psyspace says:

    John, I have to disagree with you here. Yes, I do think that immigration is a gay issue.

    You draw a comparison to multiple sclerosis which may impact gay people without being a gay issue. Let me ask you…what would it take for multiple sclerosis to be a gay issue? It would probably be a gay issue if it disproportionately struck gay people, if it was transmitted through gay or lesbian sex, or if ones homosexuality somehow impacted ones access to treatment. There was a time when I believed that breast cancer wasn’t a “gay or lesbian” issue until I learned about the increased incidence among lesbian women and particular challenges around healthcare. So yes, breast cancer is a gay issue. Abortion on the other hand is probably not (despite the fact that I am vehemently pro choice for other reasons).

    So…what about immigration? Of course UAFA is the most glaring issue…but given the threats that LGBT people face around the world…can’t you see a multitude of reasons why LGBT people may seek to immigrate legally or illegally? Many come to escape persecution, marry their partner, access HIV care, transition in terms of gender etc.? Yes, in the world that we unfortunately live in, immigration is an LGBT issue.

  29. Skeptical Cicada says:

    An issue is not a gay issue merely because some of the people affected are gay. Just about every issue affects some gay people because we are everywhere and in every population. Climate change, international trade, and road construction all affect gays, but they are not gay issues. They affect us the same as they affect anyone else. They don’t affect us specially or disproportionately. By the same token, immigration reform is not a gay issue merely because some undocumented immigrants are gay, assuming that a disproportionate number of them aren’t.

    Rather, an issue is a gay issue if it has a special or disproportionate impact on us as gays. On that view, however, immigration does qualify as a gay issue, in at least three ways:

    1. UAFA is a gay issue because the fact that gay Americans cannot sponsor their foreign spouses for immigration because of DOMA has a grossly disproportionate impact on gays. “Comprehensive” immigration reform is the time to address UAFA; otherwise, it will languish for years.

    2. Broader immigration reform is also a gay issue because every proposal for comprehensive reform includes draconian new enforcement mechanisms and entry restrictions. If UAFA is not included, those new enforcement and restriction provisions will have a disproportionate impact on bi-national gay couples, who could lose the deportation relief that the President has been able to provide under the more lenient existing law. Tightening enforcement without enacting UAFA makes things WORSE for bi-national gay couples.

    3. Broader immigration reform is also a gay issue because, even though the undocumented population may not be disproportionately gay, undocumented gays face greater burdens than undocumented straights, whether because of special risks to their health and safety if they are deported, because of lack of ability to gain access to legal status through marriage and procreation, or for some other reason. The plight of undocumented gays has some uniquely gay features to it–enough to make immigration reform a gay issue.

  30. Ryan says:

    Each person has a right to determine about what is the best use of their time, energy, and money. When someone shows up and says “My issue is the only one that matters. Give everything to my cause.” people are going to going to resent them.

  31. Ryan says:

    Progressive groups should be friends, but groups with specific focuses should spend most of their resources on their given focus. If I were a donor I would be angry if I discovered that an organization I’ve donated to was devoting a significant fraction of its resources to other issues. Take SLDN. It would be inappropriate for it to take on bullying in schools as a major issue, although it would be fine for it to lend minor support to other campaigns, such as making an It Gets Better video or coordinating It Gets Better videos made by service members. However, it would be a gross mismanagement of its donors funds to spend a significant amount of effort on things like immigration, unionization, or GMOs.

    Yesterday, I saw a criticism of the HRC for not taking non-LGBT related issues in its ratings of companies. While those issues are also important, taking them into account would dilute the meaning of the ratings. I’d hate for a company like Chik-fil-A to get rid of its 0 score because it gave health insurance to its part time employees and bought some carbon offsets but did nothing to protect its LGBT employees.

  32. Thanks Jorge. I help on immigration issues here on the blog not because I think it’s a gay issue (outside of UAFA), but because I think it’s a human issue. For me at least, the “it’s a gay rights issue” argument isn’t the one that’s most convincing. That’s why I thought it was good to have this discussion. Having said that, I appreciate your answer – this is exactly what I was hoping for, a fuller discussion on this topic, so thanks. And rest assured, we’ll continue fighting for your issues, regardless of how we define the intersection between LGBT and immigration rights.

  33. Fair enough, Matt. It’s just that I’ve heard a lot over the years from UAFA advocates who feel like they’re the ugly stepchild that always gets ignored in every discussion of the gay rights agenda. I’m just trying to make sure that we don’t leave that out of this discussion.

  34. SunriseRuby says:

    Thank you, Jorge.

  35. First, I never said immigrants can’t speak for gay rights. Second, there’s a problem with your logic that I already pointed out in the post and you don’t need to be rich and white to understand it, or for it to be true :) If all that is necessary for an issue to be a gay issue is that one of the victims or benefactors of the issue be gay, then that would means tax cuts are gay issues because 3% of taxpayers are gay. And sugar subsidies would be gay issues if 3% of sugar beet farmers were gay. And highway funding would be a civil rights issue since 14% of drivers are African-American. It’s too simple to say “an issue affects me, I’m gay, therefore it’s a gay issue.” Crime in my neighborhood here in DC affects me, I’m gay, that doesn’t make it a gay issue.

    As I make clear in the story, simply having a couple hundred thousand gay people benefit from immigration reform may be enough by itself to make this a gay issue simply because of the number of gay people who benefit. But there’s no need to resort to Marxist slurs to analyze this issue when polite respectful logic works just as well, if not even better :)

  36. Jorge says:

    My name is Jorge Gutierrez and I am Queer and Undocumented. The issues you are addressing are my reality everyday. My self and other UndocuQueer activists are engaging in organizing and advocacy efforts that intend to build bridges of support and solidarity between the LGBTQ and immigrant rights movements. No one is better fit or more knowledgeable about these issues than us who are most affected by these issues. We need to be the ones at the forefront of any organizing or advocacy efforts that deal with LGBTQ and immigration in this country. This type of work is easier said than done but our UndocuQueer stories and experiences are dismantling these notions of division. Our alliance building can not be based on a transaction framework but rather how can we work together to create meaningful change in our communities. The “all or nothing” strategy has not taken us anywhere so if we continue to take on this approach we will continue to lose and continue to pit both communities against each other. UAFA is important and immigrant communities support it but as LGBTQ undocumented people making sure our families do not get separated by deportations and ensuring Queer undocumented people are not being physically abused or raped in detention centers are also our priorities as Queer immigrants. Also, this work can only be authentic and intentional if both movements invest resources and energy in order to implement the work. Enough of lip-service, let’s hear each other stories and let’s get two work. Immigrant rights are LGBTQ rights and LGBTQ rights are immigrant rights.

  37. Drew2u says:

    Where UAFA is going is something I’m watching very closely, even though I don’t have a personal stake, and this is giving me as much indigestion as waiting for SCOTUS’ ruling – in fact, that’s something I am worried about: punt marriage to the states, how can binational gay couples get federal recognition of their marriage?

  38. SunriseRuby says:

    You are presenting this argument as if only non-immigrants are allowed to speak for the lgbt movement. You say, “when people tie their issues to our issues…” and “all the issues involved, theirs and ours…” you are speaking from an ethnocentric, privileged position. Our national lgbt organizations could use to work on issues for all parts of OUR collective movement, not just the privileged parts.

  39. Matt Foreman says:

    John – I have a close friend who is undocumented (something I didn’t know for a long time) and I see very clearly how his sexual orientation is an integral part of the challenges he has and continues to face (e.g., fleeing his nation of birth to escape anti-gay violence, being subjected to violence and sexual assault here for being gay and not being able to go to the police). He can’t apply for asylum because he missed the the 1-year deadline (as so many gay people); he wasn’t assaulted by a boyfriend, so he’s not eligible for relief under the new VAWA law, he doesn’t have a US boyfriend, so he can’t tap into that network of legal support.

    In addition, I now know several Dreamers who are LG and T and each one of them has faced disproportionate challenges because of either their sexual orientation or gender identity – being thrown out of home, school violence, etc.

    Yes, because gay people are everywhere, almost every problem in our society affects gay people. However, some – like HIV, bullying, employment discrimination and immigration – disproportionately impact LGBT people and, for me, do truly become “gay” issues requiring support from the gay community.

    As someone who has committed at least 2 felonies to keep bi-national couples together in this country, I certainly DO get that part of the issue. There is NO doubt about support for UAFA from all the leading non-gay national immigration rights group (with the exception of the USCCB and evangelicals). The challenge over the next few months will be making sure that whatever is passed in the summer of fall is the best thing possible. The senate and house bills will only be a start and I guarantee each will have things that are bad and equally, if not more compelling, than UAFA is to many gay people. If UAFA isn’t in one of the early bills, we cannot walk away from the process in a huff with the usual “thrown under the bus” rhetoric any more than advocates for a realistic road map to citizenship can walk away if one or both bills includes absurd hurdles, fees or a 20-year process or any more than advocates for maintaining the centrality of family in immigration can walk away if the bill(s) cut out or further restrict visas for parents, adult children or siblings.

  40. nicho says:

    More than likely a duck will poo on you (which is why you should be nice to ducks).

  41. Indigo says:

    UAFA is central to concerns that gay people share with activists in immigration policy. I don’t think that imposes a requirement on gay folks to formulate orthodox progressive policy on the immigration debate at the abstract level. As citizens we know that immigration reform needs to happen. As gay folks we know that UAFA legislation is central to helping gay couples with international links stay together. That doesn’t resolve farm issues focused on immigration and guest workers. Collaborating with other interest groups is a very good idea. It can lead to a comprehensive legislation that helps many groups. However . . . that word again . . . let’s be sure that our cooperation is balanced with the cooperation of others. It is political, after all, and in politics I’m not supporting your program unless you’re supporting mine. If other groups want our collaboration, great! Are they willing to support our issues? Are they willing to support UAFA? If yes, then we can work together. If not, have a wonderful day and meaningful evening. :-)

  42. zorbear says:

    Why can’t we get all our food from China? Think of the money we’d save on quality control!

  43. zorbear says:

    It’s my issue as long as it’s a human issue (or a bear issue).
    Now if it effects ducks, that’s not my problem…

  44. Our national gay rights groups are being asked to endorse immigration reform and actively help get it passed. We are being told that as a community this is a “gay” issue. We have one main gay immigration issue. It’s called UAFA. I don’t think it’s childish of us to ask that our one gay immigration issue be included in the immigration reform legislation we’re being asked, as gay people, to endorse. It seems rather obvious, rather than childish.

  45. S1AMER says:

    It’s not 100% a “gay issue,” though it affects rights and recognition for some gays.

    But it is 100% a human decency issue, and that’s why I give a damn.

  46. nicho says:

    There is unfairness in this country across the board — thanks to the corporatocracy. All of it is “our” issue — whoever we are. If we start saying that thus and such isn’t an issue we care about or it’s not our issue,” then we fall into the trap. That trap is the corporatocracy’s very very successful plan to drive tens of thousand of wedges into the 99 percent. Christians don’t care about gays. Black don’t care about Latinos. Gays don’t care about undocumented workers. And so on and so on.

    We’ve seen the very successful campaign to convince blacks that LGBT rights aren’t “civil rights.” That has worked brilliantly. We saw the Bush I campaign to pit women and breast cancer against gays and HIV/AIDS for research dollars.

    We need to come together and realize that all of these issues are “our issues” if we are members of the 99 percent. There is more binding the 99 percent together than there is driving us apart — as long as you don’t buy into the corporatocracy’s plan to divide us along a thousand fault lines.

  47. Matt Foreman says:

    As detailed in a recent report from the Center for American Progress, the nation’s current broken immigration system disproportionately harms LGBT immigrants in detention, asylum and many other areas. Moreover, it is also clear that due to homophobia undocumented LGBT people face even greater hardships and discrimination than non-gay immigrants. By working for comprehensive reform, we can not only help our LGBT brothers and sisters, we can build alliances with a community that only going to keep on growing in political power. We sorely need these allies if we are ever going to make progress in the 29 states where gay people have no civil rights protections or in the 34 that don’t protect trans people or at the federal level, where pro-gay legislation has been stalled for years. The discrimination faced by bi-national same sex couples is a result of DOMA, not immigration law, in it certainly appears that DOMA will fall in June. One way or another, however, the LGBT community needs to fight for all LGBT people in the reform effort and not act like selfish children by saying if “our” issue isn’t addressed we’re going to walk away or try to shut the whole thing down.

  48. Oh yeah, the Rs would find some reason to complain, and to block things, always.

  49. Naja pallida says:

    Immigration is an issue that everyone should be concerned about, but not in the ways Republicans would have you believe. Having a permanent underclass of people who are the primary contributors to the cheap labor behind the things that are important to important any growing nation, like construction, but most importantly, our food supply, is something everyone in this country should care about. We can’t get all our food from China.

    But from the basic human rights standpoint, immigration is all about searching for opportunities. Trying to build a better life for yourself – and your loved ones. It shouldn’t matter what the sexual orientation of people seeking a better life are, everyone should have equal opportunity, and equal capability of becoming legal, and having their relationships recognized. The very idea that Republicans would hold up an immigration bill because it has some same-sex relationship clauses is patently disgusting… but if it wasn’t that, I’m sure they’d find some other reason to claim why they have no interest in voting for it.

  50. Bill_Perdue says:

    Imported and immigrant workers and their families are never illegal. They should have the same rights and legal status as other workers plus the right to dual citizenship.

    Bill Clinton’s NAFTA is one of the main reasons that millions have fled north.

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