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Dear Editor:

The following press release was submitted by The Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force.

The Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force (LGIRTF) applauds the introduction of the Senate companion bill to HR 832, The Permanent Partners Immigration Act (PPIA) by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). PPIA seeks to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to extend immigration benefits to US citizens and permanent residents in committed same-sex relationships, who seek to sponsor their foreign-born partners. "Our immigration laws treat gays and lesbians in committed relationships as second-class citizens, and that needs to change," says Senator Leahy. "This bill would add America to the growing list of nations that extend immigration benefits to same-sex couples. It is the right thing to do, and I hope that the Senate will act." Thousands of couples face the eventuality of having their families torn apart when US-issued visas expire or live under the constant threat of the foreign partner's deportation. This stands in direct opposition to the avowed goal of "family unification" declared by the US government's current immigration policy. "The introduction of the Permanent Partners Immigration Act in the Senate comes at a critical time, as US immigration law tears apart more and more couples and families," says Suzanne Goldberg, Chairperson of LGIRTF's Board of Directors. "LGIRTF salutes Senator Leahy and the original co-sponsors of the PPIA, Senators Kennedy, Kerry, Jeffords and Feingold for their commitment to ending this inhumanity of our current immigration law, which treats long-term committed partners as legal strangers to one another." The Lesbian & Gay Immigration Rights Task Force (LGIRTF) is the only lesbian and gay immigration organization in the United States. Incorporated in 1994, LGIRTF provides vital legal assistance and a supportive community for lesbian and gay immigrants and their partners, and challenges the discriminatory impact of U.S. immigration law on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV+ immigrants through a program of outreach, advocacy and education. Headquartered in New York, LGIRTF has chapters in nineteen other U.S. cities.

Adam Francoeur
The Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force