Protesters from all walks of life -- potheads, gays, and antiwar folks -- will be greeting President Barack Obama upon his arrival to San Francisco tomorrow afternoon.
While antiwar demonstrators recruit people for their cause, several gay rights organizations are gathering supporters to pressure the president to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, and stop deporting foreign spouses of American citizens.
"If [Obama] doesn't see us, he'll see it in the media," says blogger and activist Melanie Nathan, who's hoping for a crowd of 100 to 200. "We need to focus all our energy on DOMA, which will give same-sex spouses the opportunity for equality in immigration to sponsor foreign-born spouses."
The Obama administration announced earlier this year that it
would no longer defend DOMA, which reserves federal benefits for
straight married couples. Since then, advocates have seized the opportunity for a
change in the stalemate for gay spouses in which one partner is an immigrant. Gay Americans cannot sponsor their spouses for green cards
like straight Americans can -- forcing the immigrant to live here illegally. The other option is for the couple to move abroad to be together -- an issue we explored in a 2010 cover story "Worlds Apart."
Congress members have sent letters to Attorney General Eric Holder,
asking that the deportations be halted for gay people who'd be eligible
for a green card should DOMA be repealed. Last week, lawmakers attacked
the issue from another angle, reintroducing the Uniting American Families Act, which would allow "permanent partners" to sponsor each other.
Nathan says that if DOMA is repealed, the law is unnecessary now that
a handful of states marry gay couples. She says since gays can get
married, that removes the need for a special category of
"permanent partners" in the UAFA bill, which opens the door to opponents
who say it would allow fraud.
She's expecting representatives
from Out4Immigration, GetEQUAL, and Marriage Equality USA at tomorrow's
rally, and says this is the first time that the various gay rights and
same-sex marriage advocacy groups will join forces to pressure the president.
For now, the rally is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday in front of the
Masonic Center, but check the event's Facebook page for updates.