With the media paying rapt attention to the stimulus package these last few weeks, it's easy to forget our representatives and senators also have other legislative priorities.
But today, we're going to look at one of those bills that's lurking in the shadows: The Uniting American Families Act. It's H.R. 1024 in the House, where it was introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and S. 424 in the Senate, where Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) sponsored it. As of the time this post was written, the text of the Senate bill was unavailable, though it should be identical to the House version.
The UAFA is intended to end immigration discrimination against same-sex couples where one partner is a non-US citizen. As it stands currently, if an American is in a homosexual, but committed relationship with a foreigner, he or she cannot bring the partner to the United States on a visa. The partner must instead win a green card lottery or have a work permit.
The UAFA, though 20 pages long, has one main effect. Everywhere immigration law refers to spouses, the UAFA adds the words "permanent partner," making the laws and visa opportunities apply to same-sex and heterosexual couples alike.
After the jump, we look at the UAFA's definition of permanent partnership as well as take a look at the bill's history. Sneak preview: This isn't the first time the UAFA has been introduced.