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Dear Editor:
Thank you for publishing Cyrus Mehta's excellent article, "Gay Marriage and Immigration." With all of the euphoria surrounding recent advances in the lesbian and gay rights movement, it is important to remember that gay men and lesbians in binational couples are too often faced with the impossible choice of leaving behind a life partner or living in exile from one's country. We have been advocating for changes in the law to end this discrimination since 1994. As Mr. Mehta points out, until there is full recognition of same sex marriages at the federal level, the best hope for same sex binational couples is the Permanent Partners Immigration Act (PPIA). The PPIA has made remarkable progress since it was first introduced in 2000. Despite an unfavorable climate in Washington, the PPIA was introduced in the Senate for the first time in July 2003. The bill currently has bipartisan support, including 121 House co-sponsors and eleven Senate co-sponsors. In 2003 the PPIA was endorsed by AILA and received corporate endorsement by Intel. The time has never been better to advocate for PPIA's passage. It is equally important to ensure that the Federal Marriage Amendment does not pass. Enshrining discrimination in the Constitution would be catastrophic for the movement for equal rights for lesbians and gay men. At least one version of this proposed amendment, the Musgrave Amendment, would prohibit the federal constitution or state constitutions from being construed to "require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups." By prohibiting the granting of "the legal incidents" of marriage on "unmarried couples," this amendment, if passed, could render the PPIA unconstitutional. We are clearly at a historic juncture. It is critical that we in the immigration community continue to advocate for equal rights for lesbian and gay immigrants under the law.

Victoria Neilson
Legal Director, Immigration Equality (formerly the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force)