Posted by: Through the Eyes of Women | June 29, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010 Immigration Equality

Host Heather Rawson speaks with Judy Rickard about Immigration rights for bi-national same gender couples.

Here is a press release from the Mainstream Media Project.

There are approximately 5.8 million people in the United Stated family immigration backlog waiting to reunite with family members. The current family based immigration system has not been updated in 20 years.

To promote immigration reform, Congressman Mike Honda has introduced The Reuniting Families Act (HR 2709) because, “family members have waited too long to be reunited with their spouses, and other loved ones overseas, and this legislation reflects our family values and reunited families to strengthen our communities and economy.” Honda includes the reunification rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered (LGBT) people in HR 2709.

Many U.S. citizens with non-citizen spouses endure lengthy separations. They can petition for citizenship, but the process is long and tedious and many are rejected. Sexual orientation also affects the process. For example Judy Rickard, a California native, and her British partner Karin Bogliolo live in the US six months out of the year and overseas for the other six. Because LGBT couples cannot marry, Bogliolo cannot become a US citizen through marriage. Bogliolo can only manage to get a six month visitor’s visa to the US because she doesn’t have a job or family in the US.

In Bogliolo’s native England LGBT couples can sponsor their partner. This is true for 19 other countries including Iceland and Portugal. The US could make that an even 20 soon. More then 100 lawmakers in the House and 20 in the Senate have signed bills that would allow same sex partners to sponsor their partners for citizenship.

“The problem is that I, as a woman, cannot sponsor my female partner for immigration. If I was a man or [my partner] Karin was a man, we wouldn’t be having this discussion,” said Rickard. Rickard has deemed herself and her partner “love exiles” because she “had to make the choice between family and country, between job and family.”

“In many ways, the stars are aligning to move this forward as part of a comprehensive bill,” said Steve Ralls, communications director for the advocacy group Immigration Equality. “That’s an opportunity we didn’t have years ago.”

Will LGBT rights be included in immigration reform? Should families be separated due to sexual orientation? What is the Obama administration’s position?

 Tune in Monday, July 5 at 1:30 pm on KHSU 90.5 in Arcata, Californa or online at www.khsu.org.

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