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Rights of LGBT Latinos on trial in nation's highest court

WASHINGTON -- The recent announcement that the Supreme Court of the United States will take up two cases involving same-sex marriage is of great significance to LGBT Latinos, as millions of Latinos who identify as LGBT are not afforded the rights and opportunities available through the recognition of their marriages.

Decisions in these cases — one related to a provision in the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples, and another involving California’s Proposition 8, a voter-approved measure that banned gay marriage — will be handed down in the coming months.

The lack of fairness for married same-sex couples has undoubtedly disrupted the lives of LGBT Hispanics and even broken apart families. For example, same-sex binational couples are prohibited from petitioning for a foreign-born partner to receive permanent residence and citizenship. Because same-sex couples do not receive equal protection under federal law, many spouses have had no choice but to return to their country of origin, separating loved ones from each other. More than 1,000 other legal protections for married persons are denied to LGBT couples.

A recent study by Social Science Research Solutions, commissioned by NCLR (National Council of La Raza) and funded through the Arcus Foundation, found that Latinos acknowledged the discrimination LGBT Latinos face and resoundingly supported measures to stop it. Latinos polled in the study were overwhelmingly supportive of ending policies that discriminate against same-sex couples in the areas of employment and housing. Over six in 10 (62 percent) Hispanics support legislation that protects LGBT individuals from job discrimination. Latinos also stood out for supporting same-sex marriage more strongly than the nation on average, with nearly half in favor of it.

In line with Latinos’ evolving standpoints on LGBT issues, on June 9 the NCLR Board of Directors voted unanimously to support marriage equality and incorporate LGBT issues into the organization’s core work. As the Supreme Court considers these cases, NCLR is reaffirming its commitment to fairness for all Latino families and to uplift the voices of the couples and families who are affected by the Court’s decisions.

It was only a generation ago when the freedom to marry was denied to interracial couples. The Supreme Court understood then the deep injustices perpetrated against couples in committed, loving relationships. NCLR hopes that the Supreme Court will once again rule in favor of fairness and recognize that equal protection in marriage is not a privilege but a fundamental right that is withheld from millions of LGBT Americans.

About NCLR

NCLR — the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States — works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit HERE or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.