LGBT Immigration Highlights

This section gives you an overview of some significant dates
in regard to immigration and the LGBT community.
Keep in mind that this is by no means a complete list
of all happenings (including asylum).


Exclusion for Homosexuals
U.S. immigration laws amended in 1965 (Immigration Reform Act to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act) to exclude homosexuals – "aliens afflicted with...sexual deviation" - from admission into the United States.


Under President Reagan, Congress adds AIDS to the list of "dangerous, contagious diseases for excluding persons from the United States". Bans people who are HIV-positive from entering the U.S. Only under strict circumstances can people apply for a waiver (U.S. citizen/legal permanent resident: for heterosexual spouse, unmarried son/daughter, parent; U.S. citizen: minor unmarried lawfully adopted child under 18).


Homosexual ban disappears
Barney Frank, Congressman from Massachusetts, crafts the comprehensive immigration exclusion amendment that defines the reasons for denying entry into the U.S. – and simply leaves out the sexual preference exclusion.

Asylum case Toboso-Alfonso
The BIA (Board of Immigration Appeals) recognizes the need to protect homosexuals
as a social group and allows Toboso-Alfonso to remain in the U.S. through "withholding
of deportation", but upholds a lower court's decision to deny asylum because Toboso-Alfonso had a U.S. criminal conviction.


HIV ban becomes law
The heinous HIV travel and immigration ban is codified into law as part of the NIH reauthorization (National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993). The amendment adds HIV to the list of “communicable diseases for excluding people from the United States”. President Clinton signs the bill, making the policy law. The HIV ban is still in place.


Toboso-Alfonso becomes precedent
U.S. Attorney Janet Reno releases Order 1895-94, which makes the Toboso-Alfonso case a binding precedent for INS officials making future immigration and asylum decisions. The Order states that "an individual who has been identified as homosexual and persecuted by his or her government for that reason alone may be eligible for relief under the refugee laws on the basis of persecution because of membership in a social group."

LGIRTF (Lesbian Gay Immigration Rights Task Force)
LGIRTF forms in New York City to provide support, information and networking opportunities for gay/lesbian immigrants and their partners.

Immigration Equality
Immigration Equality forms as an independent chapter of LGIRTF under its own name and leadership in Los Angeles to do the same on the west coast.


DOMA signed into law
President Clinton signs DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) into law. "The Federal Government may not recognize same-sex or polygamous marriages for any purpose." [This includes immigration.]


Permanent Partners Immigration Act (PPIA)
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduces the PPIA on Valentine's Day. This legislation would allow U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration to the U.S. by simply adding the term "permanent partner" in sections where "spouse" appears in the Immigration & Nationality Act.

San Francisco City resolution
The City of San Francisco passes a resolution in support of the Permanent Partners Immigration Act.

Asylum case Hernandez-Montiel v. INS (California)
August 2000: U.S. Court of Appeals of the 9th Circuit holds that the petitioner "a gay man with a female sexual identity, who may be considered a transsexual" is entitled to asylum and withholding of deportation.

West Hollywood City resolution
The City of West Hollywood passes a resolution in support of the Permanent Partners Immigration Act.


Permanent Partners Immigration Act (PPIA)
Congressman Jerrold Nadler reintroduces the PPIA on Valentine's Day.


Permanent Partners Immigration Act (PPIA)
Congressman Jerrold Nadler reintroduces the Permanent Partners Immigration Act in the House on February 13, 2003, and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduces it in the Senate July 31, 2003.

Marriages with a transsexual spouse
On March 20, 2003, William Yates (Acting Associate Director for Operations, BCIS, Dept. of Homeland Security) issues a new policy regarding marriages with one transsexual spouse that invalidates all legal marriages between two persons born of the same sex.


Marriages with a transsexual spouse
On April 16, 2004, the Bush government issues a new policy regarding marriages with a transsexual spouse. The policy now invalidates all legal marriages …”between two individuals where one or both of the parties claims to be a transsexual”…

California Assembly resolution
The California Assembly passes a resolution in support of the Permanent Partners Immigration Act.

Los Angeles City resolution
The Los Angeles City Council unanimously passes a resolution in support of the Permanent Partners Immigration Act.

LGIRTF becomes Immigration Equality
LGIRTF (Lesbian Gay Immigration Rights Task Force) changes its name to Immigration Equality, the name under which the Los Angeles chapter had been operating ever since its inception.


Marriages with a transsexual spouse (Lovo-Lara case)
On May 18, 2005, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) issues an Interim Decision (#3512) in the "Lovo-Lara" case in which it upholds the validity of a legal marriage with a transsexual spouse and approves the green card.

The BIA's reasoning:
DOMA does not preclude, for purposes of Federal law, recognition of a marriage involving a postoperative transsexual, where the marriage is considered by the State in which it was performed as one between two individuals of the opposite sex. Marriage may be basis for benefits under the INA, where the State in which the marriage occurred recognizes the change in sex of the postoperative transsexual and considers the marriage a valid heterosexual marriage.

PPIA gets new name
The Permanent Partners Immigration Act is reintroduced in the House and Senate under its new name, the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).


Out4Immigration is founded
On June 22, Out4Immigration forms in San Francisco as an all-volunteer grassroots organization to raise awareness of the plight of same-sex binational couples and their families, as well as the HIV ban.


Asylum case Jorge Soto Vega (California)

An immigration judge denies Vega asylum because Vega doesn't appear gay to him. The decision is appealed and asylum is secured on January 30, 2007, with the help of Lambda Legal.

Vega: "The court has awarded me my freedom and the opportunity to spend my life in the country I love with the person I love," referring to his partner of 15 years.

[If the UAFA had been in place, Jorge's partner could have sponsored him for residency – they would not have been forced to go through a lengthy, costly asylum process. It would have also saved taxpayers' money.]

Reintroduction of the UAFA
Reintroduction of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) in the House by Congressman Jerrold Nadler and in the Senate by Senator Patrick Leahy May 8.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduces bill (H.R.3337) to lift the HIV ban.

In the Senate, legislation to lift the ban is introduced by Senator
John Kerry (S.2486).

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United by Love, Divided by Law by Out4immigration is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.