We Stand on the Side of Equality

United For Marriage

Next week, as the U.S. Supreme Court hears two cases concerning same-sex marriage, thousands will gather outside the Court steps to show their support for marriage equality.  As a coalition partner of United for Marriage, the organization coordinating this effort, and as a member of the Respect for Marriage Coalition, NCLR will proudly stand with our supporters and numerous other organizations to let the Supreme Court justices know we believe in fairness and justice under the law.

The two cases being heard Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, are Hollingsworth v. Perry (regarding Proposition 8) and United States v. Windsor (regarding DOMA).  Earlier this month, we signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief urging the justices to overturn both DOMA and Proposition 8.  The two cases mark a pivotal moment in the struggle for equality as public support for same-sex marriage has hit a new high.  Indeed, a 2012 study commissioned by NCLR and the Arcus Foundation also found that one-half of Latinos believe in marriage equality.  It is clear America is ready for this.  We’ve been down a similar road as a country before.  It wasn’t so long ago that the Supreme Court was faced with deciding on the freedom to marry for interracial couples.  In the Loving v. Virginia case, the justices stood for the rights of biracial couples to be married.  The Court understood then the deep injustices perpetrated against couples in committed, loving relationships.  We hope that they will once again rule in favor of fairness and recognize that equal protection in marriage is not a privilege but a fundamental right that is withheld from millions of LGBT Americans.

Help us amplify this message in Washington, DC!  Join us Tuesday, March 26 for this historic event.  The rally starts outside the Supreme Court at 8:30 a.m. EDT.  For the full schedule of events, transportation, and places to stay in Washington, please log in to the United for Marriage information page.  If you can’t make it to Washington, there are events happening all over the country in solidarity.  We’ll also be tweeting the day’s events so you can join the conversation online.  Just follow #United4Amor on Twitter.

Check out the list of speakers below, which includes our President and CEO, Janet Murguía, and be sure to join in. We’ll see you there!

United4Marriage

NCLR Weighs In on Supreme Court Challenges to Overturn DOMA and Proposition 8

Photo: JBrazito

Photo: JBrazito

The Supreme Court will decide on the constitutionality of the government’s so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 later this month. The cases being heard are United States v. Windsor (DOMA) and Hollingsworth v. Perry (Proposition 8).  In advance of those oral arguments, today NCLR joined a sea of concerned citizens and organizations in filing friend-of-the-court, or amicus, briefs urging the Court to overturn both DOMA and Proposition 8.

We’re especially proud to be joining our sister organizations, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), as co-signatories to the amicus briefs.  We’ve long known that Latinos support marriage equality for all, but recent polling of our community confirms it.  The Windsor case in particular has many implications for Latinos, not the least being the issue of binational couples who are too often torn apart because of DOMA and our broken immigration system.  The time has come for the Supreme Court to put an end to this debate and compel the federal government to recognize all legal marriages, not just those it chooses to.

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When Marriage Equality & Immigration Policy Intersect

By Rubén Gonzalez, Deputy Vice President, Resource Development, NCLR

I asked my fiancé to marry me on an Alaskan cruise with my family, at sunset on one of the ship’s decks. We had already been together for seven years, but we had resolved not to get married until we could marry legally.

It was a long time coming and something that, when we started dating twelve years ago, we thought might never happen. In two weeks, Joaquin and I will be married in Washington, DC and will join the thousands of committed gay and lesbian couples who are realizing this dream of marriage equality that so many in the LGBT community continue to fight for so fiercely.

But are our marriages truly equal? Certainly, we share the same love and commitment to the people that we choose to spend the rest of our lives with, and like other married couples we will be surrounded on our wedding day by our family and friends. However, our love and commitment does not grant us the same federal rights and benefits that are guaranteed to heterosexual married couples.

As marriage for gay and lesbian couples becomes more mainstream and less of a wedge issue for politicians to exploit, immigration has, in many ways, assumed that role. And bi-national same-sex couples are caught right in the eye of the storm – affected by two hot-button issues.

Because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits federal recognition of same-sex unions, married gay and lesbian Americans cannot legally sponsor their foreign partners for residency in the United States. To the Obama administration’s credit, they recently unveiled new deportation guidelines that would prioritize the deportation of criminals and would review all deportations on a case-by-case basis, taking into account a person’s family relationships. And while administration officials have said that same-sex marriages will be considered under this family relationship category, they still have not created specific guidelines for these cases.

Unfortunately, as long as DOMA remains on the books, same-sex married couples will not have an equal marriage in the eyes of the law and will therefore need special protections. If federal law doesn’t consider same-sex marriage to be legitimate, an agent reviewing a deportation case might not, either.

Recently, 69 lawmakers sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice requesting that they design a working group to handle deportation cases. This working group would not only be given specific guidelines in considering LGBT family ties in each case, but would also include a member who has experience working with LGBT immigrants and their families.

The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) wholeheartedly supports these efforts and encourages those who believe in marriage equality to call the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice and request that they follow through with these proposals. President Obama has made it a point to reiterate that the arc of history bends toward justice. Same-sex couples who run the risk of being separated cannot wait for that arc to bend; the Obama administration must bring justice to us.

Joaquin and I are fortunate that we don’t have to navigate through this dilemma. Still, we cannot turn a blind eye to the injustice facing others in the LGBT community.