US Customs Plans to Recognize Same-Sex Partnerships
US Customs authorities have announced that they are considering changing regulations so as to recognize same-sex parents as families and therefore allow them to cross the border into the US together.
Currently, same-sex partners are not recognized under the family declaration and therefore must file for entry separately. This change would widen the family declaration and incorporate same-sex partners.
The change, as proposed on the Federal Register website, says:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is proposing to revise its regulations regarding U.S. returning residents who are eligible to file a single customs declaration for members of a family traveling together upon arrival in the United States. Specifically, CBP is proposing to expand the definition of the term “members of a family residing in one household” to allow more U.S. returning residents to file a family customs declaration for articles acquired abroad. CBP anticipates that this proposed change will reduce the amount of paperwork that CBP officers would need to review during inspection and, therefore, facilitate passenger processing. CBP believes that this proposed change would more accurately reflect relationships between members of the public who are traveling together as a family.
The copy also states (emphasis mine):
Under this NPRM, CBP is proposing to include foster children, stepchildren, half-siblings, legal wards, other dependents, and individuals with an in loco parentis or guardianship relationship within the definition of “members of a family residing in one household.” CBP also is proposing that the definition include two adult individuals in a committed relationship wherein the partners share financial assets and obligations, and are not married to, or a partner of, anyone else, including, but not limited to, long-time companions, and couples in civil unions or domestic partnerships. This NPRM proposes to add these relationships to the definition of “members of a family residing in one household” and refer to them as “domestic relationships.” The proposed term “domestic relationship” would not extend to roommates or other cohabitants not otherwise meeting the above definition. Additionally, the proposed changes would not alter the residency requirements that, in order to file a family declaration, members of a family residing in one household must live together in one household at their last permanent residence and intend to live together in one household after their arrival in the United States.
Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council, is quoted by Edge as welcoming this proposal and saying: “President Obama and this administration have recognized the need to modernize forms and regulations to reflect the reality of today’s American families and we applaud them for that. We look forward to the day when LGBT families are recognized, respected and protected by all laws and policies.”
It is estimated that this change could potentially save up to 75,000 hours a year of customs agents’ time.