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Wednesday, January 16 2013

Freedom to Become American

“The U.S. Catholic bishops support a comprehensive immigration bill that includes the following elements:

  • An earned legalization program which allows undocumented persons to earn permanent residency;
  • A worker program which protects foreign-born workers and safeguards against the displacement of U.S. workers;
  • Family-based immigration reform which reduces waiting times for family reunification;
  • Restoration of due process protections for immigrants; and
  • Policies which address the root causes of migration.”

-- Statement of the Most Reverend Gerald R. Barnes, Bishop of San Bernardino, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration  (January 25, 2007)

The United States does not allow people to sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration benefits, such as legal residency or citizenship, even if the couple has been legally married in another country or the United States.  This injustice would be remedied by the proposed Uniting American Families Act.

The Act is included in the comprehensive immigration reform framework being advanced by congressional leaders.  Unfortunately, the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops has joined other anti-gay Religious Right organizations that are threatening to oppose all immigration reform if it includes provisions providing basic justice for same-sex couples.  Catholics For Equality responded to the bishops’ action with this statement:

As a church of many immigrant communities and traditions, the American Catholic Church has historically been a beacon of welcoming for new immigrants. The current U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' opposition to the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) runs contrary to the Catholic Church's longstanding pro-family and immigrant positions and aligns the Church with the forces of bigotry and discrimination.  

Catholics for Equality supports UAFA's provisions to help immigrants become Americans and reunite their families. The civil marriage traditions of other countries should be respected.  Catholics for Equality upholds the principle of the separation and church and state.

Freedom to Unite Immigrant Families to Become American Families

Catholics for Equality supports family life in all its modern manifestations based on loving, mutual commitment.  Today there are many types of families that create our communities.  In Catholic parishes throughout the United States there are nuclear families,  extended families, and single-parent families.  Some of these families have children and some do not.  Children are being raised by their biological parents, by adoptive parents, by step-parent, grandparents, foster parents, and in group homes and orphanages.  Children are being nurtured by teachers, coaches, aunts and uncles, godparents, and big brothers and sisters.  In their parishes, families are being nurtured by celibate parish priests, lay ministers, and religious sisters and brothers.  

When Catholics think of 'family' and 'marriage' their thoughts are set in a vibrant context that is far more complex than a simplistic "one man, one woman" relationship.  

American Catholics understand and live productively with family complexity. They accept, support, and participate in the wide range of family realities that constitute today’s parishes and civic communities.  As Catholics unite around the Eucharist they experience the Body of Christ in its many forms that draws all people into the one Christian family that is life affirming and celebratory, as well as forgiving and healing.  

In that spirit of inclusivity, Catholics are the single most favorable Christian denomination toward LGBT acceptance in U.S. society: 

  • 58% believe homosexuality should be accepted by society;
  • 69% of Catholics favor the legalization of the basic rights accorded to married heterosexual couples for gays and lesbians in long-term committed relationships, such as hospital visitation rights, health insurance, and pension coverage.  This is a significant statistic compared to 63% of mainline Christians, 36% of white evangelicals, and 44% of black Protestants.

This data confirms Catholics as the leading Christian community in acceptance of equal family rights for the LGBT community.  Acceptance of equal family rights does not in any way diminish traditional family life but bolsters the social fabric of all American families. (2) 

The concept of family equality is central to nurturing children in today's society.  According to the Trevor Project, a national suicide prevention organization, "Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth who come from a rejecting family are up to nine times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers." (1)  We owe it to our children to be accepting and loving of them, especially as they face their own understanding of sexuality and identity.  Catholic families can be a beacon to all American families in the creation of family equality as a true family value.

Take Action!

Call or write your Members of Congress and state “I am a Catholic and member of Catholics for Equality from your state and believe that all men and women should be given be provided equal immigration protections regardless of sexual orientation.  I ask that you vote for the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and the Reuniting Families Act (RFA). The UAFA and RFA include provisions to allow LGBT Americans to sponsor their foreign-born partners for residency in the United States.”

Capitol Hill Switchboard: 202.224.3121

Contact Your Representative:  http://writerep.house.gov

Contact Your Senators: http://senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

For more information about Freedom to Become American:

Wikepedia Basic Facts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniting_American_Families_Act

Immigration Equality: www.immigrationequality.org

Human Rights Campaign: http://www.hrc.org/issues/int_rights_immigration.asp

For resources on American Catholics on immigration issues:

Consult the American Catholic History Classroom at http://libraries.cua.edu/achrcua/immigration/immigration_wel.html

Catholics for Equality © 2010 • Catholics for Equality Foundation © 2010
PO Box 34765 • Washington, DC • 20043-4765 • tele: 202.657.6097