Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Shirley Tan and Jay Mercado

After the crushing disappointment of Prop 8 in California this past November, I was very heartened to hear that same-sex marriage will soon be legal in two other states, Iowa and Vermont!

But as Sweet T points out in her blog entry for today, state-by-state victories will not confer federal marriage rights to same-sex couples, a fact that carries devastating personal consequences for some partners.

Currently, a California mother of two named Shirley Tan is fighting deportation back to the Philippines. Her partner, Jay Mercado, cannot sponsor her for permanent residence because they are a same-sex couple. Her lawyers have argued successfully to postpone her deportation date, but there is a very real possibility that Ms. Tan will be sent away from her two sons and her partner.

The legal issues here are largely a result of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, which explicitly states that domestic partnerships and even actual same-sex marriages from states where they are legal are not valid relationships when it comes to sponsoring one's partner for permanent residency.

Right now, 95 Congressmen are co-sponsoring HR1024, the Uniting American Families Act, which will eliminate discrimination against same-sex couples in immigration cases, and 17 Senators are co-sponsoring the Senate equivalent, S424.

Click on those links -- they'll take you to more information about those bills, including a list of co-sponsors. If your congressional representative and Senators are not on the list of co-sponsors, contact them and urge them to support these measures to help families like Ms. Tan's. If you have your own blog and agree with what these bills are proposing, spread the word.

I'll close with Jay Mercando's moving words of commitment to Shirley Tan and their family. When asked what they would do if Shirley Tan is deported, she replied,
"We'll move, and we'll be together. We raised our family, and we won't let anyone tear us apart."


N said...

Thank you for spreading the word about this!

Sweet T said...

awesome post. thanks for passing along this very important info- I need to amend my links to include the info on DOMA etc.