Immigration Equality

            Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force/LA
   c/o L.A Gay and Lesbian Center/Legal Services Department
             1625 North Schrader Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028-9998
   (new vox) 213-526-2915 (fax) 213-993-7699 (email)

May 1997


The next informational meeting of Immigration Equality will be, as usual, on the second Tuesday of the month at 7pm. This month that is Tuesday, May 6 at 7pm at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center (1625 North Schrader Boulevard in Hollywood, two blocks west of Cahuenga Boulevard and one-half block south of Holywood Boulevard.) We will be meeting in Room 204 (on the second floor) in the library of the legal services department. This month's meeting will feature an update on the Hawaii marriage situation from Eric Astacaan of the Los Angeles Freedom To Marry Coalition. Come hear Eric speak and meet other Immigration Equality members in an informational, social meeting.

HAWAII NEWS: Win Some, Lose Some

On April 11 Hawaii State Senate and State House conferees agreed on a constitutional amendment to stop same-sex marriage as well as legislation to grant around 30 marriage-related benefits to ``couples which can not get married.''The agreement calls for a measure to appear on the November 1998 ballot which reads ``The legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.'' If voters approve it, the Legislature could vote to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples in January 1999. The big news is that in order to have the constitutional amendment pass the Senate, the House had to agree to create reciprocal beneficiary legislation which goes into effect July 1, 1997. Reciprocal beneficiaries, which include same-sex couples, explicitly have inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights and around 30 or so other rights usually reserved to married couples. The right to file joint state tax returns is NOT included.


One point which is sometimes lost in the obsession over the Hawaii marriage situation is the fact that even when same-sex couples can get married in Hawaii this does not mean that all gay and lesbian immigrants should get married. Some visa applications require you to show that you intend to return to your country of origin. While the legal battle to force INS to recognize legal same-esx marriages is going on INS may use the fact that you are married to make things difficult for people who either hold these kinds of visas or are applying for them. Of course, if INS is eventually forced to recognize same-sex marriages the problems with other visa will go away. But since we don't know how long that will take, it is best to think ahead before taking that first plane to Hawaii after same-sex marriages are legalized.


The local gay and lesbian radio show IMRU on KPFK 90.7 FM is interested in doing a short feature on ``queer immigration.'' If you are interested in participating, please contact Ron Buckmire at 213.259.2536. You can remain anonymous if you like. He would to interview one gay male couple and one lesbian couple. There is a possibility that the story could be picked up by This Way Out, the international gay and lesbian syndicated radio magazine heard on over 80 radio stations around the world.


The Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force, our parent organization, has a new web site at

The International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission which has an Asylum Project, is at

The American Immigration Lawyers Association has a very useful website at

Also, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has a website at

There is also a website devoted to Queer Immigration issues at

The immigration and nationality law firm of SISKIND, SUSSER, HAAS & CHANG has begun offering free copies of INS forms at