An unprecedented number of American citizens are facing the challenge of being in a nonheterosexual bi-national relationship. Although immigration laws are based on the principle of family unification, under current federal law lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans cannot sponsor their same-sex foreign national partners for residency in the United States. Consequently, an estimated 36,000 couples face the threat of family separation because immigration’s narrow definition of “family” excludes same-sex bi-national couples and their children. Despite the fact that family research indicates that long periods of separation have harmful effects on the family, immigration law continues to deny bi-national families the basic right of family unity afforded many of their heterosexual counterparts. Bi-national couples must learn how to function in a social system while dealing with heterosexism, overt discrimination, violence and the psychological symptoms that result from helplessness. This article will explore the ways in which non-heterosexual bi-national families must struggle to keep their families together as a result of the discriminatory ways in which laws are constructed in this country. We propose that discriminatory immigration policies have neglected contemporary family research that describes the family as a diverse array of intimate systems that provide mutual care.
From the Journal of LGBT Family Studies, Vol. 9(1)