U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) will this week reintroduce the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) in Congress, legislation designed to give Americans in a longterm same-sex relationship the ability to sponsor a partner for citizenship. This right is currently denied them per the Defense of Marriage Act.
From On Top Magazine:
New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler on Thursday will reintroduce his Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).
Two out of the four openly gay House members — Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Jared Polis of Colorado — are expected at Thursday’s event, which is scheduled to take place at the House Triangle at 1PM.
Opponents of the proposal say it would create a back door to gay marriage.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops railed against including gay families in immigration reform when California Representative Mike Honda attached the UAFA as part of his comprehensive immigration reform package.
“[Including the gay provisions in the immigration bill] would erode the institution of marriage and family by according marriage like benefits to same-sex relationships, a position that is contrary to the very nature of marriage, which pre-dates the church and the state,” the bishops wrote in a letter to Honda.
The legislation has been repackaged a number of times to try and gain traction, yet conservatives concerned about the legislation’s impact on the Defense of Marriage Act have continually opposed the move. In one previous incarnation the legislation was known as the Permanent Partners Act.
It should be noted that UAFA would only allow for recognition of same-sex partners in this very narrow circumstance so that an American-born half of a same-sex couple might sponsor their foreign-born partner.
In fact, as introduced last year, the bill’s text makes the distinction that this is not recognition of marriage explicit by designing to insert “permanent partners” after the word “marriage” in the current statute.
Among qualifications for how one defines a permanent partnership, which is termed in the text as an intimate, financially dependent relationship (so those in state sanctioned same-sex marriages and civil unions would certainly qualify), the legislation specifically states that permanent partner status can only be given if a foreign-born partner “is unable to contract with that other individual a marriage cognizable under this Act.” This refers to the fact that DOMA prevents federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Read more on the text of the bill here.
However, playing the same-sex marriage card has proved a very capable defense against the legislation in the past and one that seems likely to continue in the Republican-controlled House.
Jerrold Nadler is also a lead sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and would therefore eliminate this problem entirely.
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