United States federal law recognizes only marriages between heterosexual couples. This means that homosexual Americans cannot exercise the rights of a married couple, including the right to keep one’s spouse in the country after marriage if the spouse is an immigrant. A news story released in California tells the story of a gay married couple, one of whom is an Australian immigrant, fighting to stay together.
The couple has been living together in the U.S. for the last 19 years. They married legally seven years ago in Massachusetts, which permits two people of the same sex to get married. Now, because of federal immigration laws, the Australian man is being forced to leave the country. The two men plan to file for a last-minute spouse visa and are requesting their California state representatives’ endorsement in their campaign. The Australian man is also facing some severe health problems, and the couple is desperately requesting that immigration authorities take his poor health into account.
Until recently, the Australian man had been utilizing the Visa Waiver Program to exit and enter the United States. Under the program, Australians are allowed to remain in the United States for a total of three months, minus a visa. However, immigration authorities recently informed him he would no longer be allowed to use the program to remain on American soil. One ray of hope for this couple is the proposed Uniting American Families Act. The newly proposed bill would allow same-sex partners to sponsor each other for visas.
Immigration rights activists argue that since homosexual Americans are fighting for equality, homosexual immigrants should also be entitled to increased legal rights.
Source: San Francisco Weekly, “Bradford Wells- Gay San Franciscan- Fighting Against Husband’s Deportation; Taken To Hospital,” Lauren Smiley, 10 June. 2011.