Immigration Equality plans to host a meeting in New York City on Wednesday, May 18, to discuss strategies for helping keep bi-national same-sex couples from being separated due to current law, which prevents Americans with same-sex spouses from sponsoring their foreign partner for purposes of obtaining a green card or otherwise preventing deportation.
Among the organizations planning to have representatives in attendance are the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and Freedom to Marry, Metro Weekly has confirmed. Immigration Equality would not release a complete list of attendees.
The issue of the fate of same-sex bi-national couples has been in the news repeatedly since the Department of Justice decided that it would no long defend section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act -- which creates a federal definition of marriage that includes only opposite-sex couples. That definition has kept Americans from being permitted to sponsor same-sex foreign partners for immigration purposes.
Most recently, Attorney General Eric Holder on May 5 vacated a Board of Immigration Appeals decision denying the cancellation of a removal order for Paul Wilson Dorman, asking the BIA to answer several questions relating to the status of Dorman and his American partner, with whom he had entered into a civil union in 2009.
Of Wednesday's meeting, Immigration Equality spokesman Steve Ralls told Metro Weekly, "Immigration Equality has organized, and will lead, a meeting later this week in New York. The guest list for the event is private, though I can confirm that the conversation will be centered around Immigration Equality's work on behalf of binational families."
Asked to explain the purpose of the meeting further, Ralls explained, "[T]here has been enormous attention focused on our work surrounding LGBT binational families recently, and many groups and individuals have expressed an interest in that work. We are bringing a group of those allies together for an off-the-record discussion about how to ensure we win that campaign as quickly as possible, and end the discrimination those families are facing."
Ty Cobb, HRC legislative counsel, Josh King, HRC's lobbyist on the issue, will be attending on behalf of the organization, according to HRC spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz. Attorney Janson Wu from GLAD will be attending on behalf of his organization, according to GLAD communications director Carisa Cunningham.
Freedom to Marry president Evan Wolfson, who will be attending part of the meeting, tells Metro Weekly, "Clearly Freedom to Marry, like many other groups, is eager to identify and support strategies to end -- and, as quickly as possible, suspend -- the hardships and injustice endured by binational couples denied the family unification policies afforded to other couples who can marry.
Writing about his organization's broader work, he added, "And, Freedom to Marry has a particular interest in connecting the larger immigration conversation and progress to be made in improving our country's policies to our call to tell the stories of our families and how they are harmed by the denial of marriage, our federal push to overturn the so-called 'Defense of Marriage Act,' and our three-track campaign to end exclusion from marriage."