On the Monday, May 13th A Public Affair, host John Quinlan discussed legislation now pending to give LGBT couples and families the same immigration rights as other families with Attorney Rachel Tiven, the executive director of the national advocacy organization, Immigration Equality, who joined us via phone from New York. Our guests also included Gabi Helfert and Joey Johannsen (a couple with with Madison roots who are current residents of the Netherlands), as well as Franck Meunier, the husband of newly-elected Madison Alder John Strasser (who couldn’t be with us due to a prior commitment).
Although both couples were married in Iowa, lack of recognition of LGBT people under federal immigration law makes the potential US residency and citizenship status of German-born Gabi and French-born Franck much less secure than their heterosexual counterparts. For Gabi and Joey, it’s meant choosing to live in the European Union, rather than here in Madison, where their rights are recognized continent-wide. In order for Franck and John to be able to live together in Madison, it means a delicate balancing act to keep Franck’s work-based immigration status intact, instead of basing it on the integrity of the 20 year relationship he’s shared with John. It’s an ambiguous status shared by thousands of couples, one that also potentially separates parents from their children. Despite trends in public opinion that support full recognition of LGBT families under law, concern is that these rights will be compromised in the immigration reforms now being debated in Congress, if LGBT-supportive voices are not heard.
For more information, and updates on current pending legislation, see:
Listen to the whole episode: