Clinton Says She Supports Federal Law Changes to Help Same-Sex Binational Couples

Presidential contender recognizes disparity in state marriage, civil union and domestic partner laws that bar LGBT citizens from equal immigration rights.

San Francisco, CA, April 06, 2008 --( Democratic presidential contender Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) said in an interview today that the lack of federal protections for LGBT couples, particularly where immigration rights are concerned, are “one of the biggest problems that we’ve got to contend with.”

In a ground-breaking interview with Philadelphia Gay News reporters Mark Segal and Sarah Blazucki, Senator Clinton was asked point blank what she would do to improve the immigration policy for same-sex couples in which one partner is American and the other is from another country. Heterosexuals in this situation typically take advantage of federal marriage laws. By legally marrying, the American can then sponsor the foreign partner for a green card. Because immigration rights are part of federal marriage provisions, gays and lesbians, barred from federal marriage are also barred from equal immigration rights.

“Even states that have civil unions, domestic partnerships or even marriage laws are running into roadblocks with the federal government when it comes to federal benefits and privileges,” Senator Clinton said.

“Of course, immigration is a federal responsibility and I am going to do everything I can to eliminate any disparities in any benefits or rights under our law at the federal level so that all people will have available to them every right as an American citizen that they should, and that would include immigration law.”

Clinton’s comments go a step further than that of her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination. On February 29, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) said he had “worked to improve the Uniting American Families Act so we can afford same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married couples in our immigration system.” The UAFA would amend existing immigration law by adding the words “or permanent partner” everywhere the word “spouse” appears, thus circumventing comprehensive immigration reform or changes to federal marriage recognition laws.

“Out4Immigration is encouraged by Senator Clinton’s comments,” said Michael Lim, Vice President of the national grassroots organization Out4Immigration, a group dedicated to raising awareness about the discrimination LGBT Americans and their foreign partners face under current US immigration law.

“We hope that both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama mean what they say about changing laws that discriminate against and hurt our families,” Lim said. He cites a 2006 Human Rights Watch report that estimates there are 36,000 same-sex binational couples currently living in the United States. Every year, thousands of these couples are forced to either leave the United States or live apart because they have no legal options of remaining together in the United States.

The UAFA, introduced in May 2007 by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), currently has 90 co-sponsors in the House and 12 in the Senate.

“Ironically, neither Senator Clinton nor Senator Obama is a co-sponsor of this bill,” said Lim. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), the presumptive Republican nominee has not signed on either.


For more information:

To read the full text of the Clinton interview with Philadelphia Gay News, conducted by Mark Segal and Sarah Blazucki on April 3, 2008:

The Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 2221):

The Uniting American Families Act (S.1328):

Human Rights Watch Report: Family Unvalued: Discrimination, Denial, and the Fate of Binational Same-Sex Couples under US Law:


Out4Immigration addresses the widespread discriminatory impact of US immigration laws on the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV+ people and their families through education, outreach, advocacy and the maintenance of a resource and support network. For more information, visit To schedule interviews with same-sex binational couples who are available to speak with the media on this issue, including Spanish-speaking couples, please contact Amos Lim,, 415-375-3765 or Kathy Drasky at, 415-606-2085.
K.T. Drasky