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Statement of Mark Pelavin, Associate Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, on the Reintroduction of the Permanent Partner Immigration Act

WASHINGTON, February 14, 2001

On behalf of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, the public policy arm of the Reform Jewish movement, I am pleased to join Representative Jerrold Nadler and our valued friends to announce our support of the Permanent Partner Immigration Act.

Today, on a day in America set aside to celebrate love and commitment, we want to recommit ourselves to ensuring that no one—whether male, female, straight, or gay—is excluded from this powerful celebration.

We believe that the love that God calls us to, the love that binds two people together in a loving and devoted commitment, is accessible to all of God's children, and gay and lesbian couples should have the legal right as heterosexual couples do to maintain such lasting partnerships. This critical legislation would go a long way in securing that right for thousands of same-sex couples kept apart by oceans of water and mountains of legislation in their way.

Although 75 percent of the 1 million "green cards" and immigrant visas issued each year go to family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, this opportunity is not afforded to same-sex couples. The Reform Jewish Movement has long supported the United States policy of offering preferential treatment to family members in granting visas. However, we also believe that a same-sex couple is as much a family as the traditional ideal of a mother, a father, and two children. We were all created b'tzelem elohim —in the image of God—and everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, must be treated justly. Gay and lesbian couples in monogamous committed relationships have demonstrated the same love to and devotion for one another that heterosexual married couples have. These couples are deserving of the same rights and benefits, even without the legal protection of a civil union, as married couples enjoy.

In a Jewish wedding ceremony, we ask God to "Grant perfect joy to the beloved companions." We see this legislation as an important step in securing this very goal, and hope that lawmakers will join us in recognizing and alleviating the struggles of same sex, bi-national couples in finding joy and security as beloved companions.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) whose membership includes over 1700 Reform rabbis.




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