The Obama administration recently gave two political boosts to communities who have long been marginalized in federal politics. President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage broke some ice on the issue of LGBT rights and marriage equality in Washington. And this summer Obama announced that his administration would, at least in theory, halt deportations of many undocumented young people and allow them to apply for work permits. So score one for LGBT folks, and one for undocumented youth. But at the intersection of queer and immigrant rights struggles, it doesn’t quite add up.
Binational LGBT couples still face big obstacles to gaining legal status and protecting themselves from separation. Since the legal battle around same-sex marriage has centered on changing state law, federal immigration law still doesn’t offer anything close to equal treatment for couples in which one partner is undocumented or seeking a green card. There is pressure building to reform the law to allow more LGBT couples to stay intact; the recently adopted Democratic Party platform supports marriage equality and states specifically for binational couples: “the administration has said that the word ‘family’ in immigration includes LGBT relationships in order to protect binational families threatened with deportation.”
The advocacy group Immigration Equality has been fighting a long, convoluted battle in the courts against the Defense of Marriage Act and its discriminatory impacts on LGBT couples. But change isn’t coming fast enough for those already facing deportation or long-term separation under laws that fail to give equal recognition to same-sex partnerships.
The grassroots advocacy group Out 4 Immigration is trying to document the struggles of those couples through “visual protest.” Their campaign, United By Love, Divided by Law, uses Tumblr to show the human face of the families trying to hold onto each other in the face of overlapping oppressions: the government refuses to acknowledge either their civil rights or the sovereignty of their relationships. While they wait for the courts and the lawmakers to deliver full equality, they can’t wait to declare their love.
I made a promise to Francis. I will not stop, I will not give in, and I will not allow any person, embassy, rule, or civil injustices have the final say in our life together.
Despite the 8561.5 miles between us…love finds a way.
By Eric Wagner, via flickr.
Our love is separated not by distance but by politics.
To learn more or submit your own image, go to unitedbylovedividedbylaw.tumblr.com/.