This message, from our executive director, Rachel Tiven, was sent to our e-alert subscribers earlier today.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. once noted that “The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.”
As we end 2009, I am reminded of Holmes’ words in surveying how far we have come this year.
The Advocate pointed out in September: “While national gay organizations have paid scant attention to [immigration reform] as they juggle more marquee (and bankable) issues . . . Immigration Equality has lobbied key lawmakers and immigration rights groups with a staff of nine employees and a budget shy of $1 million.”
“Immigration Equality’s lobbying strategy has worked so far,” The Advocate added, “primarily because the organization focused extensively on building bridges with mainstream immigration groups and faith-based organizations.”
As we head into 2010, our work continues. But I hope, as this year comes to a close, you will join us in celebrating the giant steps forward we have taken together.
Consider, just for starters, that in 2009:
- We had the very first Congressional hearings on the discrimination faced by our families. In June, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a full-committee hearing on the Uniting American Families Act, including testimony from Shirley Tan, NAACP chairman Julian Bond, the American Bar Association, and Pfizer’s Gordon Stewart.
- We raised the visibility of our families in extraordinary ways. In just one year The New York Times covered us twice, The Advocate ran an in-depth profile of our work, and we headlined stories in the Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, Newsweek, Washington Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Detroit News. The Nation called on Americans to fight for an LGBT-inclusive immigration reform bill “just as hard as we have fought for a public option in healthcare reform.”
- We ended the HIV Travel and Immigration Ban. On January 4, 2010, the ban will be a thing of the past. After playing a key role in the Congressional repeal, Immigration Equality relentlessly pursued the Obama administration to ensure the repeal was implemented. We are now reaching out around the country to make sure individuals and service providers understand what the repeal means for them.
- We won more than 70 LGBT asylum cases. Immigration Equality’s legal team helped LGBT people from some of the world’s most homophobic places – including Jamaica, Saudi Arabia, Syria and more – begin a new life in the United States. The country’s most esteemed law firms participate in our pro bono program and partner with Immigration Equality to win these cases.
- We launched the Immigration Equality Action Fund to step up our advocacy in Washington. Through the Action Fund we’ll be able to do unlimited lobbying. We are adding another lobbyist in Washington and a new grassroots organizer to build support for the Uniting American Families Act and comprehensive immigration reform.
And that’s just a fraction of everything we’ve done together. (For a fuller accounting, be sure to read Branching Out, our Fall/Winter update.)
Looking ahead, we are moving in the direction of comprehensive immigration reform, which will move through Congress early in 2010 . . . continued advocacy on behalf of LGBT detainees . . . more work on behalf of LGBT asylum-seekers . . . and more visibility for our families.
Your support and your activism has made all this progress – and all of these opportunities – possible. Because of your generosity, we are moving in the right direction.
Together, we can make 2010 the year we cross the finish line.
Rachel, Vickie, Julie, Steve, Win, Gabe, Aaron, Pamela, Danny, Shruti, Prabhat, Holly, Albert and everyone on the Board and Staff of Immigration Equality and the Immigration Equality Action Fund