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While the U.S. Supreme Court decides the future of marriage equality and Congress pushes forward a bipartisan immigration reform plan, one Arizona group has decided to bridge the two issues.

The Arizona Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, a political advocacy group for people who are members of the undocumented and LBGT communities, is protesting Arizona’s strict immigration policies and supporting marriage equality.

Public administration and higher education graduate student Davier Rodriguez, a member of QUIP, said immigration reform and marriage equality share the same goals.

“The idea is bridging the two movements,” Rodriguez said. “A person is not just LBGT or undocumented. They have many identities.”

According to a study by the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, 267,000 LBGT undocumented people live in the U.S.

Rodriguez said AZQUIP is the primary LBGT immigration organization in the state and QUIPsters, as they call themselves, believe in justice for all of them.

“America gives rights to one group and not another, as opposed to improving the overall human condition,” Rodriguez said. “We are focused on social justice for everyone.”

The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, proposed this month by a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of 8,” reforms the U.S.’s immigration policy in many aspects but did not include reform for bi-national LBGT couples.

QUIP supports the Uniting American Families Act, which would allow LBGT couples to sponsor their partners for residency if they are from another country. Under U.S. law, married couples can legally sponsor their partners, but the law does not apply to civil unions. The “Gang of 8” did not include UAFA in their reform, as some of the members said including marriage equality would be harmful.

Gabriel Escontrias, assistant director of the ASU Learning Sciences Institute and president of the LGBT Devils' Pride Chapter, said the two issues are both important to him, but that it may be best to let the “Gang of 8” legislation pass before tackling gay rights.

“It’s tricky not to tack on too much right now,” Escontrias said. “You’re picking what’s more important to you. If you don’t allow one thing to be the catalyst, nothing will get done. Then we are doing ourselves a disservice.”

Escontrias said if the immigration reform passes, all undocumented people in the U.S., members of the LBGT community included, will benefit from the reform.

Everyone needs to be patient with reform and not try to accomplish too much at once, he said. However, Escontrias said he is glad that people are uniting their efforts and working toward common goals.

“Civil rights are human rights,” Escontrias said. “Anyone’s rights should be a concern to everyone. We finally have some folks coming together.”

Lisa Magaña, a professor at the ASU School of Transborder Studies, said the key to reform for bi-national LBGT couples is the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that restricts federal marriage benefits for same-sex couples. The court will rule on the act sometime this summer.

“If we have marriage equality, then of course same-sex couples can sponsor their spouses,” Magaña said. “If DOMA is turned down, then marriage is now legal for everyone, and we already have a proposal to sponsor married couples.”

Magaña said marriage equality is inevitable, and so individuals who are undocumented and LBGT should focus their efforts on immigration reform and should feel optimistic about the future.

“To even have this discussion about marriage equality makes me feel hopeful,” Magaña said. “It feels like a very different climate.”


Reach the reporter at or follow him @jthrall1

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