You're standing in front of your Family and Friends prepared to make your dreams of a lifetime come true. It's at that moment that you are grateful that you have a professional guiding your ceremony. The Supreme Court has finally ruled upon this issue. Now is the time to plan your perfect LGBT Wedding. I have been performing Commitment Ceremonies since the beginning, and I am so pleased this has opened up for everyone to marry the one they Love. Contact Reverend Jacqui Weiks, Your LGBT Wedding Officiant
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Ensuring LGBT Immigration Equality
Immigration is one of the most widely-discussed topics in the United States right now, with 2016 presidential candidates debating the issues surrounding the rights and protections afforded to both immigrants and refugees coming into the country. Unfortunately, most of the candidates have been silent on the topic of immigration equality for LGBT people, and few have outlined ideas for housing, welcoming, and protecting LGBT immigrants.
According to a recent survey by the Williams Institute, there are nearly a million LGBT immigrants in the United States, and they’re faced with a number of unique obstacles beyond the long and arduous immigration process. For LGBT people around the world, policies on immigration and refuge are a life or death matter. There are 80 countries where being gay or transgender is effectively outlawed, whether by criminal law or social prejudice. Finding a safe harbor can often mean escaping a terrible fate.
In 80 or more countries being gay or transgender is effectively outlawed. #LGBTrights Click To Tweet
Understanding the Barriers to Immigration Equality
LGBT immigrants find themselves in an extremely precarious position, dealing with potential rejection from the community immigrants and abuse from within the system. There are many barriers to immigration equality for LGBT people, and very little has been done to address:
- Housing and detainment: This is perhaps the biggest issue when it comes to immigration equality. LGBT immigrants, and transgender immigrants in particular, face much higher rates of violence and are often forced into isolation when they are detained during the immigration process.
- Language barriers: Many LGBT immigrants arrive in the country speaking limited English. This can make even the most essential communication, such as declaring your sexual orientation or gender identity extremely difficult. It can be a major impediment to navigating the immigration system.
- Access to counsel: Closely related to the language barrier is a lack of access to competent and supportive legal services. Immigrants are not provided with counsel before facing judges and other immigration officials. This means they start at a disadvantage upon arrival.
There has been some progress in how the United States handles LGBT immigrants and refugees. However, gains have often been side-effects of other laws, rather than changes to immigration policies and procedures. For example, the legalization of gay marriage contributed to immigration equality. Previously, petitions for spousal immigration were restricted to individuals who married in a state where gay marriage was legal.
Improvements for #LGBTimmigration have often been side-effects of other laws. Click To Tweet
Promoting and Supporting Immigration Equality
Immigration is already a divisive issue. Adding LGBT protections and rights to the mix is bound to draw fire from groups who may already be opposed to opening the country’s borders to refugees or foreign citizens seeking better opportunities for their families. Still, there are certain steps immigration equality advocates would like to see implemented to help pave the way for LGBT immigration:
- Ending detention: Some praised the establishment of a “pod” for LGBT detainees within a Santa Ana detention center. Others have argued that segregated detention does little to protect LGBT immigrants from abuse from detention center staff, petitioning instead for an end to the detention of immigrants.
- Legal protections: Organizations like Immigration Equality and the National Immigrant Justice Center prioritize matching LGBT immigrants with needed legal services to protect against deportation. Attorneys represent them as they fight for citizenship, especially since the process takes years.
- Deportation relief: Many LGBT immigrants cannot safely return to their home countries. Since persecution and threats of violence drive much of the movement from repressive nations to more accepting and progressive countries, deportation can be a death sentence.
Immigration Equality Beyond the United States
Even outside of the United States, we seem to be at a tipping point for immigration and refugees. The summer of 2015 brought Europe’s largest refugee crisis in modern history. Recently a group called Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSM) staged a protest against the United Kingdom’s harsh anti-immigration bill in which masked protesters made small cuts on their bodies to create a “river of blood,” referencing a phrase from a 1968 anti-immigration speech. Tensions around this issue are especially high due to terrorism fears and divisive rhetoric against immigrants.
Immigration equality for LGBT people needs to be a part of conversations about refugees, asylum, and immigration going forward. This is especially important as more LGBT immigrants flee countries where their gender or sexual orientation is outlawed. We can only hope the coming months will see more candidates and lawmakers express their support for the concerns of LGBT immigrants, and work toward solutions to these crises.