While new immigration reform has made a lot of changes for the better for immigrants in the Los Angeles area, there is still a long way to go. This is especially true for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community who would like to see the same rights extended to them as their heterosexual counterparts.

One congressman knows firsthand the devastating effects that current immigration law can have on a couple. He was separated from his partner for 12 months because the man was unable to get a green card or a spouse visa through the congressman. He testified in front of the Senate in an effort to include the LGBT community in immigration reform.

Although currently same-sex couples can be legally married in several states in the country, these unions are not recognized on a federal level. This means that even if one member of the partnership is a U.S. citizen, he or she is unable to petition for his or her partner to get a green card and stay in the country legally. These rules still apply even if the couple has children together.

Proponents of LGBT inclusion in immigration laws argue that current laws are not only hurting the LGBT community, but also the U.S. as a whole. They claim that when one partner is forced to leave the country, the other one often follows. They site instances of business owners pulling up stakes and laying off their employees in order to be with their loved ones.

If you are a member of the LGBT community and in a bi-national relationship and would like to learn more about how current immigration law applies to you, you may wish to speak with an immigration attorney.

Source: EDGE, “Activists Call for LGBT-Inclusive Immigration Bill,” Michelle Lim, April 28, 2013