Bill is Passport to Marriage Equality

As we speak, hundreds of families across the United States are being forced apart.

When a family seeks to immigrate into the U.S. through legal means, they will often send one family member in order to establish a financial foothold. Once that foothold has been established, the rest of the family is sent for. Unfortunately, many families get caught in the red tape of immigration laws.

One bill, called the Uniting American Families Act, seeks to rectify the situation. This new bill, which is still working its way through Congress, will allow these immigrant families to be reunited speedily and efficiently. The catch is that these families involve same-sex couples.

These couples have been the center of much controversy. In the last two presidential elections, same-sex marriage for the nation became a hot-button issue at almost every debate. In California, Proposition 8 infamously ended legal same-sex marriage. By contrast, Maine recently became the nation’s fifth state to legalize same-sex marriages.

Same-sex immigration opens up a new avenue for debate regarding same-sex couples. Until now, opponents have focused on preventing the creation of new families with homosexual marriages. Proponents desire the opposite, a chance to start the kinds of families conservatives desperately want to preserve. Because the new immigration issue deals with pre-existing families and with legal backing in other countries in addition to gay rights, this law should be immediately enacted.

Opposing the bill would be a form of discrimination. There is no doubt that providing one-person legal privileges while denying others the same privileges because of a lifestyle choice that does not hurt anyone is a form of discrimination. Preventing more fluid immigration for same-sex partners vouched for by a U.S. citizen is less extreme, but it is similar to denying a person a drink of water based on the color of their skin.

Neglecting to pass this bill would also insult other countries who acknowledge same-sex marriages. After the Bush administration’s “with us or against us” policies, the global reputation of the U.S. has suffered greatly. When a citizen of a nation whose country allows same-sex civil unions of any kind is told that his or her relationship does not have the same legal standing here as in their homeland, we insult their government. Imagine if we just told them directly that we can choose to ignore any of their laws or policies according to our choosing. This is almost what we are doing when we tell other countries that their civil unions and same-sex marriages do not matter to us.

Both of these arguments overlook the obvious fact that not passing the bill would unfairly maintain hardship for same-sex partners if one partner cannot sponsor his or her spouse/partner for immigration. Many opponents to gay marriage claim that their arguments are not about hate but about preserving the sanctity of marriage. Well, the couples in question have already been wed under the laws of another nation. Their children have been adopted and raised by parents who love them. Helping these loving families remain separated cannot be construed as anything other than hate.

An opponent to the adoption of children by gay couples may incorrectly argue that a child raised by a gay parent would suffer and that a quick separation would benefit him or her in the long run. This argument has no scientific basis and has not been corroborated by the psychological or sociological communities. The only difference between children raised by heterosexual couples and children raised by homosexual couples is a slight tendency toward more egalitarian views of gender.

Passing this bill will serve three distinct purposes: It will help international relations, provide more equal rights to homosexuals on a world-wide stage and help families become permanently reunited. These are the steps which will truly help secure the American family and change its traditional views. The act may not be the dramatic leap forward that activists had in mind, but it is an inch toward the correct direction and a far more plausible goal.

Kevin Pease is a fourth-year psychology and social behavior major. He can be reached at kpease@uci.edu.