Gay Rights: Why Don't People Discuss Asylum Reform For LGBT Immigrants?

Published: March 28, 2013

The marriage equality movement seems to have overpowered all other queer priorities and this deeply bothers me. While I could write an entire article on that, I’ll stick to one issue near and dear to my heart: sexuality-based asylum. When we speak about immigration reform, we don’t talk about asylum reform. One argument I hear cited repeatedly is that Obama’s immigration reform plan is superior to that of the Senate coalition because it would allow citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for visas. Everywhere I turn, it seems LGBT activists are claiming that this would be a huge victory for the LGBT community. Well, as a queer youth who has worked for years in an immigration center, I strongly disagree.

The immigration system is flawed, and it is especially flawed for LGBT émigrés. Even if the president’s proposal were to pass, it does not go far enough. It irks me when my straight friends herald Obama as a crusader for the LGBT cause. But he repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and mentioned Stonewall in his inaugural speech!

I do not deny that this immigration reform add-on would be a small step in the right direction. But frankly, I expect more. Am I the only gay American who thinks the LGBT movement has sold out? Obama puts in one line about helping keep gay immigrant families stay together and we all wet ourselves with excitement. To truly help LGBT immigrants there needs to be widespread reform of asylum policy.

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