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.

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Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to igb.


Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin5 years ago

Step by step...In a short while, maybe the US will join the rest of the civilized world and reckognize and respect all aspects of same-gender families.

mary teraji
mary teraji5 years ago

um yea...
That doesn't even make sense. If you're coming to America with any group of people, weather it's your family or not, why should you have to all be separated? Maybe I'm not understanding how the procedure works.

J.L. A.
j A5 years ago

One more important step towards equality that can be accomplished administratively without an act of Congress.

Lydia Price

This is good news!

Rin S.
Rin S5 years ago

That is amazing. A step forward!

Joe R.
Joe R5 years ago

Thank you US Customs authorities. All families deserve respect! You have brought a smile to my face.

Nancy Black
Nancy Black5 years ago

Why not? It makes sense; it save money, and more important it gives equality to a segment of our population that has been discriminated against.

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton5 years ago

Good to hear.

Kandy B.
Kandice B5 years ago

This makes my heart proud! Another beautiful step in the RIGHT direction! Families shouldn't have to file individually- they should be allowed to file as a unit! My heart is leaping with joy right now! YAY! Times are surely changing! I LOVE it!

Karen and Ed O.
Karen and Ed O5 years ago

Well, son of a gun. Someone in the government is paying attention and it's sure not Congress.
Our thanks for a great step in the right direction.