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Families First: GLBT Family Issues and Resources (February 2015): Immigration

By Ellen Bosman


Historically, the spouse of a United States citizen was permitted to enter the country; however this was not the case for GLBT couples until the 2013 overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Although the GLBT immigration question appears settled, libraries should own some titles for historical purposes. Early efforts to address this inequality originated with GLBT rights groups, such as New York’s Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force, which produced a video. Over the years the topic remained obscure, with coverage limited to journal articles and chapters within books. The scarcity of materials on this topic is evident. Eithne Luibhéid, a leading researcher in this area, has edited two valuable collections with nearly identical titles but different foci. In the face of the contemporary US immigration debate comes Queer Migrations. The essays in this volume deal with people of color from Mexico, Cuba, El Salvador, and the Philippines. Luibhéid’s lucid introduction contextualizes the topic and paves the way for eight scholarly essays. An index, unusual in an anthology, is a useful addition to this work. Luibhéid’s second compilation, Queer/Migration, includes eleven essays international in scope and best suited to upper undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. Her signature essay asks whether sexuality can serve as a vehicle for changing the perceptions around immigration status. Also fascinating is Clare Sears’s contribution, titled “Transing California’s Gold Rush Migrations,” in which cross-dressing and other gender-subversive practices occur in the absence of a female population. Both works by Luibhéid are notable for filling a gap in the literature of immigration. Also of interest is the Immigration Equality website, featuring work that seeks to end discrimination in US immigration law, to reduce the negative impact of that law on GLBT lives, and to help with asylum for those persecuted in their home country based on their sexual orientation. Similarly, the Out4Immigration website is maintained by a grassroots organization of the same name that works for immigration reform. It features reports, legislative decrees, and PowerPoint presentations. The Love Exiles Foundation website is maintained by an international organization devoted to supporting families who have relocated in order to have their relationships recognized. These families’ personal stories are the most distinctive feature of the site. Finally, the Uniting American Families website serves as a news clearinghouse and historical representation of the Uniting American Families Act, which was legislation proposed in 2011 to end GLBT immigration discrimination. 

Works Cited