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SAME SEX, DIFFERENT RIGHTS: AMENDING U.S. IMMIGRATION LAW TO RECOGNIZE SAME-SEX PARTNERS OF REFUGEES AND ASYLEES

Authors


Elise.S.Dunton@gmail.com

Abstract

Overcoming a long history of anti-gay sentiment preserved in federal immigration law, the United States has made admirable advances during the past two decades in the protection it affords gay immigrants. Despite this promising progress, and in contrast to the practices of all other industrialized democracies, the United States remains firm in its refusal to federally recognize any form of same-sex partnership, a decision which bears directly on those relationships considered valid for immigration purposes. The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) represents the closest any proposed legislation has come to successfully granting immigration rights to gay immigrants. However, through its restrictive provisions, the UAFA fails to fully account for the needs of refugees, asylees, and their same-sex partners. This Note argues that, while the UAFA is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough to protect gay refugees and asylees. It further proposes that legislation be enacted which provides this unique segment of the immigrant population the opportunity to share their lives together, free from fear of persecution. It advocates for the use of the conjugal partner provision set out in Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act as a template for changes to U.S. immigration law, thereby expanding the category of relationships viewed as valid for the purpose of immigration.

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