San Francisco, CA, March 29, 2007 --(PR.com
)-- Friends and supporters gathered to mourn the death of Ruby Ordenana, a 27-year-old transgender sex worker also known as Ruby Rodriguez, Friday night in San Francisco’s Mission District. Rodriguez, a Nicaraguan immigrant, was found strangled to death on March 16 near a freeway overpass in an industrial part of the city. The murder is currently under investigation by the San Francisco Police Department.
“People like Ruby faced hatred and discrimination on many fronts—she stood between the cross-hairs of discrimination from many sides, one for being transgender, another for being an immigrant, and a third for being a woman of color,” said Michael Lim, Vice President of Out4Immigration, an international grassroots organization that addresses the widespread discriminatory impact of US immigration laws on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV+ people and their families.
“Ruby faced a battle that turned physically violent,” said Lim. “We at Out4Immigration share in the shock and horror of this tragic loss of life and express our sincerest condolences to Ruby’s friends and families of choice. We trust that the SFPD will treat this with the seriousness with which it deserves and the DA’s office will prosecute it as the hate crime this appears to be.”
The violent death of Rodriguez once again brings together two communities that continue to face widespread discrimination often compounded with hatred—the immigrant community and the LGBT community. Out4Immigration’s mission is unique in that it focuses on both communities, LGBT people who are also immigrants to the United States.
“Ruby probably came to the US to escape persecution from her community in Nicaragua, hoping to be accepted for who she is,” said Lim. “For her to meet such a violent death, here on the streets of San Francisco, is a reminder for all of us that immigrants and LGBT families need to be protected by the law of the land.”
LGBT people in the US face an uphill task of trying to protect their families privately through contracts and other legal avenues, typically domestic partnerships or state marriages that provide some basic rights locally, but stop at the federal level. “However, there are two major issues where no private contracts or local laws protect or help: violence against our families and the non-recognition of our families in immigration law,” said Lim.
Two pieces of legislation can change this. The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA), a bipartisan bill that would extend the definition of hate crimes to include violence against a person because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity, and provide local law enforcement agencies the resources to combat hate crimes was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-MI, last week. It may come up for a vote later this year.
Meanwhile, the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would make a simple change to current immigration law that would allow American citizens to sponsor their same-sex partner for a green card. Under current immigration law, LGBT Americans are denied the right to stay in their own country if they are in a relationship with a person who is from another country whose visa options have run out. In order to stay together, the couple has just two options—leave the country, or live apart. This is perhaps the most extreme example of how local domestic partnership or same-sex marriage laws fail at the federal level, as immigration rights are a federal issue and are not protected by any local or state laws. It is expected that this legislation will be re-introduced in both the Congress and the Senate within the next few months.
“Until these laws change, though, LGBT people living in the US will continue to face discrimination—and, in the worst cases, violence that goes unchecked,” said Lim. “There are no other pieces of legislation out there that would help stop the discrimination against LGBT immigrants and protect their safety faster than these two bills. Out4Immigration is a major supporter of both of them and our goal is to continue to educate and inform people about the need for their passage.”