Almost 30 Fortune 500 companies are urging the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” to include benefits for gay and lesbian couples in any potential immigration reform package, telling the bipartisan group of senators that splitting binational families apart is not only immoral, but bad for business.
“We have lost productivity when those families are separated; we have borne the costs of transferring and retraining talented employees so they may live abroad with their loved ones; and we have missed opportunities to bring the best and the brightest to the United States when their sexual orientation means they cannot bring their family with them,” the companies said in a letter organized by Immigration Equality’s Business Coalition for the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).
A copy of the letter, sent to each of the eight senators, was provided exclusively to the International Business Times. Those senators include Republican lawmakers Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John McCain (Ariz.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) as well as Democrats Michael Bennet (Colo.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Robert Menendez (N.J.) and Chuck Schumer (N.Y.)
Signatories to the letter include major corporations such as American Airlines, eBay, Goldman Sachs, Google, Nike and Thomson Reuters. Interestingly, Bain & Company, the management consulting firm once led by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, also signed on in support of LGBT couples.
Immigration Equality is a strong supporter of UAFA, which in February was reintroduced in both the House and Senate. The House bill has two Republican co-sponsors and the Senate bill was introduced by Sens. Patrick Leahy , D-Vt., and Susan Collins, R-Maine.
UAFA would allow same-sex couples to receive the same benefits as heterosexual ones under federal immigration law. The change would permit them to petition for green cards for permanent partners or spouses.
Under the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages that are legal on the state level. As a result, a countless number of binational gay and lesbian couples have been separated, forcing some American citizens to leave the U.S. if they want to be with their partners.
President Barack Obama has voiced his support for same-sex benefits in immigration reform measures. Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano, responding to Republican concerns that it could potentially open the door to green card fraud, told the Senate Judiciary Committee in February that she did not see that as a “barrier to achieving equality.”
See the full text of the letter below:
The Honorable Charles SchumerSen. Lindsey GrahamSen. John McCainSen. Robert MenendezSen. Marco RubioCc:Sen. Michael BennetSen. Richard DurbinSen. Jeff FlakeUnited States Senate322 Hart Senate Office BuildingWashington, D.C. 20510Dear Senator Schumer,We, members of the Business Coalition for the Uniting American Families Act (S.296 / H.R.519), are writing to express our strong support for the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) family ties in the common-sense immigration reform package that you are drafting. Many tenets of the principles released in January are crucial to American competitiveness. Equal recognition for LGBT permanent partners is important to us for the same reason.Our companies represent diverse industries, from pharmaceuticals to hospitality to technology. What we share is frustration at seeing our LGBT employees treated differently under U.S. immigration law than their colleagues.We have each worked to help American employees whose families are split apart because they cannot sponsor their committed, permanent partners for immigration benefits. We have lost productivity when those families are separated; we have borne the costs of transferring and retraining talented employees so they may live abroad with their loved ones; and we have missed opportunities to bring the best and the brightest to the United States when their sexual orientation means they cannot bring their family with them.We have long supported LGBT employees facing immigration discrimination and we will continue to support them, but the real solution is for Congress to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to recognize same-sex permanent partners. The inclusion of permanent partners in comprehensive immigration reform would accomplish this necessary goal. We endorse this legislation not only as a matter of fairness, but because we cannot afford to lose our most precious resource: talent.Sincerely,
American AirlinesFort Worth, TexasBain & CompanyBoston, MassachusettsBarclaysNew York, New YorkBNP ParibasNew York, New YorkBoehringer Ingelheim USARidgefield, ConnecticutBristol-Myers SquibbNew York, New YorkCarlsonMinnetonka, MinnesotaCisco SystemsSan Jose, CaliforniaCitiNew York, New York
DiageoNorwalk, ConnecticutThe Dow Chemical CompanyMidland, MichiganeBaySan Jose, CaliforniaErnst & Young LLPNew York, New YorkThe Estée Lauder CompaniesNew York, New YorkFifth & Pacific CompaniesNew York, New YorkGoldman SachsNew York, New YorkGoogleMountain View, CaliforniaIntelSanta Clara, CaliforniaMarriott InternationalBethesda, MarylandMerck & Co., Inc.Whitehouse Station, New JerseyNikeBeaverton, OregonOgilvy & MatherNew York, New YorkPfizerNew York, New YorkReplacements, Ltd.Greensboro, North CarolinaTexas InstrumentsDallas, TexasThomson ReutersNew York, New YorkUS AirwaysTempe, Arizona
Ashley covers U.S. politics for the International Business Times, with a focus on civil liberties, women's issues and campaign finance. Her work has also appeared in The...