Pinkwashing, in this context, involves making immigration reform look pro-gay to garner LGBT support in order to mask the severe drawbacks of the legislation. Because LGBT people have been at the bottom of society for so long, many people mistakenly see some forms of “gay rights” as a marker for progress or modernity.


There are serious, deleterious harms as a consequence of what some may view as coalition building between mainstream immigration reform advocacy groups and LGBT groups. The end result of pinkwashing immigration reform is threefold. First, the United States masquerades as a haven for gays, lesbians and undocumented immigrants, who wrap themselves up in an American flag and declare their allegiance to U.S. nationalism, even as the state produces and reproduces conditions that lead to more migrants fleeing their homes. Second, through pinkwashing, the United States continues to expand the immigration detention and deportation complex even while appearing to pursue reforms for all. And finally, pinkwashing ensures that the only piece of legislation that could have directly benefited gays and lesbians – providing immigration rights to same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents through the Uniting American Families Act – gets thrown under the bus.

All families, and not just ones with heterosexual couples, deserve to benefit from just and fair immigration reform. This includes ending all deportations, eliminating the Secure Communities program and repealing the draconian detention system and unlawful presence bars, providing immigration benefits for same-sex partners – all of which won’t make it into the final legislation that is likely to be hailed as a victory by the immigration and LGBT nonprofit industrial complex, even as it spells a disaster for migrants and Americans alike.

Fiji native faced deportation before DOMA struck down

“My parents brought me from the Island of Fiji when I was 14 years old,” she said in recounting her lengthy saga to remain in the U.S. “We settled in the Bay Area of California. I grew up there. I went to high school there. I went to college and graduate school there,” she said.

“My parents got their papers eventually but I was aged out of the process,” she said, noting that under a quirk in the immigration law, she was no longer eligible for permanent residence status even though her parents were because she was older than 21.

“I moved to D.C. to go to law school and to become an immigration lawyer and fight my case,” Lal said. “And in the middle of that I met Lindsay and we started living together and I fell in love. And so she asked me to marry her.”

Lal and Schubiner, a policy adviser on health and immigration issues, each said they plan to continue their work in the D.C. area to push for immigration rights for others.

“I’m thrilled to be able to celebrate my union with Prerna here today with everyone,” Schubiner told the Blade. “We’re so blessed to be able to spend our lives together and we finally have all the rights that we deserve,” she said.

“And now we’re going to spend the rest of our time making sure everyone has all of those rights regardless of marital status and regardless of immigration status.”