Story by VALERIA MONCADA
Photo from the Utah Legal Immigration blog
A discussion panel on Oct. 4 was open to U students to inform them about “Pride has no borders,” the theme for the immigration panel. Immigration and equality are two much discussed topics in the United States, and lesbian and gay individuals want to have rights in the U.S just as much as an immigrant does.
Panelists discussed issues that focused on different countries, states throughout the U.S and at one point religion was involved as well. Life becomes much more complicated as a gay immigrant who is interested in issues such as marriage, benefits, receiving citizenship and adopting children.
Panelist Ricky Gutierrez, a graduate student in education, culture and society, said, “I think we need to recognize the way both immigration and sexuality have been intimately connected. We cannot have ideas around being gay without ideas around being white or being black.”
Another discussion was about religion and the LGBT community. Mariana Ramiro Gomez, a graduate assistant at the LGBT Resource Center, said that when she came out her mother didn’t attend church for about two years due to the conflicts that she faced there for supporting her daughter.
Max Green, an advocacy coordinator with Equality Utah said, “The truth is, gay people go to church.”
Green also said that the best way to break down stereotypes is to communicate with church leaders.
“This probably won’t change their opinion, but it will let them know that the people they preach about are in their audience,” he said.
Other concerns had to do with immigration and same-sex marriages. Due to the federal immigration law lesbian or gay citizens cannot marry an immigrant and hope to start the citizenship process. Lesbian and gay individuals face double discrimination: not only are they discriminated against for being immigrants, but they also are discriminated against by the immigrant community for being gay. This also includes the issues they face in the process of coming out to the community.
According to the Immigration Legal Resource Center’s webpage on LGBT immigrant rights, “many immigrants have fled their country of origin due to sexual orientation or gender identity also referred to as SOGI based persecution. Others fear social isolation from their community in the United States.”
Not only does this mean that lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender immigrants need legal and social services that are unavailable to them because they are both immigrants and gay or bisexual, but they could also face difficulties in obtaining a lawful immigration status.
Max Green of Equality Utah added, “You have absolutely no safeguard, you have no rights and these things prevent people from having real and meaningful relationships.”