Tragic valentines

Boyce Hinman is chief lobbyist with the Lambda Letters project

February is the month when we celebrate Valentine’s Day and is the month for lovers. And, with more and more people traveling overseas, many people are meeting and falling in love with citizens of other countries. Long-distance romances can be hard to maintain. For heterosexual couples, there is an easy solution. A U.S. citizen can marry his or her foreign partner. U.S. law then grants the foreign partner permanent legal residence in the United States. However, the law doesn’t allow American citizens to do this for their same-sex partners.

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy has introduced S. 1510 in the Senate. The Permanent Partners Immigration Act would allow U.S. citizens to obtain permanent residency for their domestic partners who are currently citizens of another nation. The bill also has been introduced in the House of Representatives as House Resolution 690.

Adam Francoeur, program director of the New York-based Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force, estimates an initial surge of up to 20,000 people would seek residency visas if the Permanent Partners Immigration Act became law. He thinks the number of applicants would then drop to about 1,000 a year.

The bill was referred to the Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 31 of last year. It has been there ever since. California Senator Dianne Feinstein is a member of that subcommittee. She is in a crucial position to try to get S. 1510 moving. But, though California’s other U.S. senator, Barbara Boxer, is a co-sponsor of the bill, Feinstein is not. It appears she has done little if anything to move the bill.

Please call or write Feinstein, urging her to co-sponsor S. 1510 and to get it moving. You can call her toll-free by dialing (800) 648-3516. Ask the operator for Feinstein’s office and then leave a message with her receptionist. If you prefer, you can send the senator an e-mail from her Web site at

We’d like you to honor romance by contacting the senator as close to Valentine’s Day as possible, but any time will do. Please help our community’s bi-national couples.