Pelosi, Over 80 Democrats Pressure Obama On Protecting Binational Same-Sex Couples

ObamaPelosiDOMAThere was lots of political hoopla when the Obama Administration announced last August that immigration officials would use "prosecutorial discretion" for low-priority cases, a move the White House made out a a step forward to protecting binational same-sex couples from being separated because DOMA, which does not recognize their marriages and unions.

"The prosecutorial discretion memo provides for the use of discretion for people with strong community ties, with community contributions and with family relationships. We consider LGBT families to be families in this context," an administration official told Metro Weekly at the time.

Fast forward a year and there's been little movement, or explanation, about the rules. Hoping to put some pressure on the president, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and more than 80 other Democrats yesterday sent a letter asking Obama and company to be more specific.

Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed offers more details:

In [the] letter, Pelosi — along with Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Mike Honda, the lead sponsors of two bills aimed at addressing LGBT inequalities in the immigration system, and 81 other Democrats — called on Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to "issue a written field guidance or a memorandum to explicitly state the policy of your August 18, 2011 announcement which would direct DHS personnel to consider LGBT family ties as a positive factor for the exercise of prosecutorial discretion."

The House members — including out gay Reps. Barney Frank, Jared Polis and David Cicilline — go on to say that "[a] written policy is the best way to ensure that the decision by President Obama and DHS to recognize LGBT family ties for immigration purposes will be implemented so that families will remain together."

Lawyer Lavi Soloway, founder of Stop the Deportations, told Geidner that a lack of specific codes "continues to send mixed messages to deportation officers, Immigration Judges and Immigration and Customs Enforcement prosecutors who have the discretion to protect our families and stop deportations."


  1. jason says

    The thing that concerns me about Obama is that, whenever a gay rights issue has come to the fore, pressure has had to be placed on him. This was especially seen in the lead up to DADT repeal where the President basically dragged his feet for months.

    We’ve also seen this in relation to his gay marriage position, a position that he describes as requiring evolution. I’m not convinced that he is genuine in his concern for our rights.

  2. Derrick from Philly says

    “We’ve also seen this in relation to his gay marriage position, a position that he describes as requiring evolution. I’m not convinced that he is genuine in his concern for our rights.”

    Yes, and when will your Republican politicians evolve on the issue of marriage equality, Jason? Maybe in the 2020’s– seven or eight years after an Obama Supreme Court has ruled in favor of it.

  3. yonkersconquers says

    This is the most important test of the presidents commitment to the LGBT community.

    If the administration follows through on their own rhetoric then they must issue a clarification to immediately stop the cruel and pointless deportations and breakups.

  4. Mike says

    “There’s a Storm Coming, Mr. Obama…”

    Don’t act like you didn’t think of cat woman and Bruce Wayne when you saw the picture. It kinda fits with the context also.

  5. Icebloo says

    Obama has to win the election AND we have to have a majority in BOTH houses to get this legislation through ! If we can get a majority in both houses AND the White House we can have gay marriage and equality and we won’t have to hold our breath and hope the right wing biased Supreme Court rules in our favor.

    People – PLEASE donate your time or money to getting the Democrats back into office. It’s our best chance.

  6. andrew says

    @Icebloo: you are mostly correct, but you actually need 60 U S Senators to prevent filibusters in the Senate. A simple majority is not enough.

  7. Mitch says

    I think the Democrats are moving this issue forward strategically. It’s politics. These people are talking to each other behind the scenes to find a balance between public acceptance, reelection, and the right time to make the next move. Hillary offered her support. Public reaction was tested. Now Nancy and the 80+ put forward another test.

    As much as it’s not fast enough for us, myself included – we’re ready for it, we’ve been waiting a long time – the pace is picking up, we’re gaining more support in the courts and among politicians. I appreciate the thought out moves that reduce the risk of a far more detrimental conservative backlash.

    I hope our own impatience doesn’t result in a backlash on those who are working slowly and steadily on our behalf. The alternative is far worse. No-go is far worse than slow!