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Thursday, 11 March 2010

Will White House moves on immigration reform include LGBT

South façade of the White House, the executive...Image via Wikipedia

By Melanie Nathan

President Obama has called Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Lindsey Graham to the White House, for a discussion on Monday 15 March about moving immigration reform forward. But does this discussion include the LGBT community’s need for inclusion in reform or has it already been determined that the gay and lesbian bi-national partners will not be included in immigration reform.

The two Senators are supposedly working on a Comprehensive immigration reform bill. Why I say supposedly?   I have been told, since September last year, that the Bill was about to be introduced, next week – in two weeks and it went on.

I acknowledge that the immigrant community is frustrated that a Bill has not been forthcoming by this administration, despite promises that it would be out this past year. Yes the immigrant community is suffering the horrible impact of a broken system and it must change – but our activists are now making their plight our fight.

Obviously there are gay and lesbians, et al, caught up in the broken immigration system. They are our brothers and sisters and we feel for the plight.  However since when did the LGBT community give its permission for Immigration Equality [IE] to move UAFA [Uniting American Families Act] – a bi-national – same-sex permanent partner equality Bill into an immigration reform BILL so that we could be kind and nice to all the others impacted by  the broken system.

I emphasize that the LGBT community has been waiting for a decade, not for comprehensive immigration reform, but for passage of a Bill that would signal equality under the current existing Immigration law.

Now we have been thrown onto the Immigration reform Bus with 12 million others, being led by a withering dangling carrot – being – “think of this we can help so many others beyond just the bi-national community.”
Here is the proof -  Rachel Tiven, Immigration Equality’s executive director says, “This is a both/and situation for us, not an either/or.”   If we fight for truly inclusive reform, we can work to make sure that no one is left behind.  And the moment to bring our power to bear – and ensure we are heard and included, too – has now arrived.
Here it is the anchor that sunk the ship – those all too revealing words- come on board the Titanic we guarantee passage remark from Immigration equality.  As long as all you activists tow the line and go along with IE, you are sailing, my friends, on the Titanic. Big ship Big sink.

The attempts by pro equality lawmakers have taken the form of several incarnations over the past years, including The Permanent Partners Immigration Act, now defunct and the current UAFA, Uniting American Families Act, introduced into Congress by Rep. Jerrold Nadler.
Associated Press reports that according to White House spokesman, Nicholas Shapiro, the President is “looking forward to hearing more about their efforts toward producing a bipartisan bill,” Shapiro said Friday.
Bipartisan? Are there no lessons from healthcare reform? With the current Republican mix of heard hearts, Bipartisan is an oxymoron.  Just get the Bill out to a vote. The only Bi one should be thinking is binational.   Bipartisan attempts, after the healthcare debacle ought to be off the to do list, with respect Mr. President.  When will the Whitehouse get it, these Republicans hate him and want him to accomplish nothing. They want him out of office, so its worth it to them to stick a pitchfork in the heart of any proposed legislation.

Any feigned bipartisanship will in any event require the destruction of the very essence of an immigration bill –  the bill will not be comprehensive. We all know that. But anyway in these articles quoted by Pam's House Blend and Immigration Equality Blog , there is no mention by the White House that the discussions on CIR (comprehensive immigration reform) will include UAFA.

We believe that Senator Schumer has already sold the LGBT community out to the Catholic Bishops (see my earlier post)  WE ARE not going to be included in comprehensive reform and (BIG) IF we are – (and I hope Schumer will change his mind) – then surely bringing  Graham in we result in us being out the door before we are back in the door that we are already out of…. (get the point?)

If the LGBT community is actually left out from a purely Democratic or even bipartisan Bill, then we cannot afford to hesitate and must produce some real strategy for UAFA as a stand-alone.  At the very least we can step up the fight based on the question of equality for the American citizen partner, as opposed to this being an immigration issue for the foreign born partners, who have no inherent rights in terms of our Constitution to immigrate to the USA.  Why don’t we attach UAFA to DADT repeal?  I am sure DADT will be repealed and UAFA will simply make sense to tag on. That would be easier than chasing CIR.

As long as Immigration Equality thinks we will be productively included to the point of passage in Comprehensive Immigration reform, the longer UAFA as a stand alone sits in the trash can.  However once an immigration Bill is out for reform, then we will have a better idea of where we stand and whether Immigration Equality and other activists would be compelled to get their eye back on UAFA.

Based on this purview and the current uncertainty, I believe it is time for Immigration Equality to come clean and to account to us as a community. For now I promise to be quiet about the back door deals. However I do have the following questions for Immigration Equality - perhaps the same I have been asking for many months:

You have assumed the role of pre-eminent lobbyist for this issue- you purport to have done all in your power for UAFA – on behalf of our community – you continue to solicit funds in the name of UAFA and its grass root activists – and – You have directed all LGBT groups into the quagmire of the non-existent immigration reform – tenuously perhaps to come-whilst Healthcare was clearly rendering its prophetic shadow - you NOW owe us ALL a duty, including me, probably your most significant  critic, to be transparent.

Immigration Equality, tell us what is your plan. What is your plan – not in theory - practically?  Who are you speaking to?  What deals have you made on our behalf? Where do we stand if we are not included in CIR? What is plan B? What if we are included in CIR – what are the risks to UAFA as a stand-alone then? You did not give us an opportunity to weigh in on what you termed a complete win for us in June of last year, how about involving us ALL, in an honest assessment, at this time? Are you reassessing your strategy ever? Do you need to assess now if this is a workable route.

Last week I found out that some months back, Immigration Equality tried to silence my voice by writing the editor of this, the Lezgetreal news and blog site. We get over 130,000 hits per month, and amongst my fellow writers, my voice is being heard. It is being heard by grassroots and lawmakers alike. Immigration Equality wrote our Editor in an e-mail asking for me, Melanie Nathan to be axed from LGR because and I quote “She is a loose cannon.” If truth, honesty and transparency define ‘loose cannon,’ then thanks for the title.

But I am sure as there is no contrary opinion on Pam’s Blog and as long as that Blog supports / sponsors Immigration Equality, there are very few contrary opinions for IE to worry about.

From Immigration Equality’s website (reflecting Pam’s House Blend and AP report,) – “Several community groups planned to vent some of that frustration in a news conference Monday in Washington. The groups also are trying to organize tens of thousands of people from around the country for a March 21 demonstration in Washington.”  Please note these are Immigration reform groups from the larger community.

Immigration Equality and other organizations of the LGBT community are also planning various activities, protests, hoping for visibility to be included in Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

While I support visibility; I do not support the lengths we have gone to and the effort still to come, to get noticed for inclusion in an immigration reform Bill, because our issue is lost, especially while people like Tiven, advocate for immigration for all and broken systems ahead of equality? IE say we are here for the good of all! It should be first and foremost be about equality.

This strategy has cost us more than a year more, and we are not on the cards for inclusion.  The effort should have been going to UAFA – all of it - we could still have marched on the 21st, because by that time you may have had double the support on UAFA and our inclusion would have been organic, by virtue of a lot more being brought to the table.

“The president’s commitment to fixing our broken immigration system remains unwavering,” Shapiro said.” Well thank you but what about EQUALITY. Bi-national LGBT Equality. I wonder if that will even be brought into discussion. If Senator Schumer is planning to exclude us from the Bill, I would ask for his kindness in speaking to the President about UAFA and for some leadership to move the LGBT cause forward in the form of UAFA.

March for Visibility, March for UAFA, March for UAFA’s inclusion on CIR -thats fine but please Immigration Equality, do not patronize us with your BS that we should be here for the good of all. That would be a poor excuse for your mistake.
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