Senate Hearing Held on Uniting American Families Act
The US Senate Judiciary Committee held the first-ever congressional hearing yesterday on immigration rights for gay and lesbian couples. The hearing focused on the Uniting American Families Act, which seeks "to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses of citizens and lawful permanent residents"
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and is a sponsor of this legislation, said in a statement: "For too long, gay and lesbian American citizens whose partners are foreign nationals have been denied the ability to sponsor their loved ones for lawful permanent residency. Under current immigration law, many citizens have been forced to choose between their country and their loved ones. No American should face such a choice."
According to Immigration Equality, there are approximately 36,000 same sex couples that are separated or facing separation because US immigration laws do not allow sponsorship by same sex partners. About half of the affected couples are currently raising children.
Media Resources: Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy 6/3/09; US Senate Bill 424; Immigration Equality Press Release 6/1/09
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .