Gay couples descend on Capitol Hill for immigration reform

Uniting American FamiliesBY CHRIS JOHNSON
Washington Blade

For lesbian couple Shirley Tan and Jay Mercado, the debate on comprehensive immigration reform in Congress is a make-or-break moment that will determine whether their family can remain together in the United States. The California couple, among the estimated 36,000 bi-national same-sex couples living in the United States, paid a visit to Capitol Hill on Wednesday along with other couples for a lobby day bearing a singular message: include the Uniting American Families Act as part of larger immigration reform.

About 50 gay, bi-national couples from 26 states came to Capitol Hill on Wednesday as part of a lobby day effort organized by the LGBT group Immigration Equality. Straight Americans can sponsor their partners for residency in the United States, but that option isn’t available to gay Americans because of the Defense of Marriage Act and because they can’t marry in many places within the country. UAFA would enable gay Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for residency.

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