Highlights of Martha's advocacy are listed below.
UNITING AMERICAN FAMILIES ACT - Access To Family-Based Immigration For Same-Sex Binational Couples
Founded and Chaired the Love Exiles Foundation, an international community of US Citizens whose activism resulted in a revolution in US immigration law for American citizens with same-sex partners.
Love Exiles chapters were established in the Netherlands, UK, Canada, Germany, and Australia, with members across the globe.
Members shared personal stories with elected leaders, building support for LGBTQ+ immigration rights through ongoing attention in international media (NY Times, San Jose Mercury, CNN).
Organized “Love In Exile” events and spoke at conferences to draw attention to the exclusion of US citizens living abroad and their non-US partners from family reunification provisions of US immigration law.
Collaborated with other activist groups and NGOs, including Out4Immigration, Marriage Equality California, Immigration Equality, Human Rights Watch, the DOMA Project, and Marriage Equality USA, where she served as an Advisory Board member.
Spoke as a guest on the floor of the DNC 2007 LGBT Caucus and Women’s caucus meetings about the plight of same-sex binational couples, meeting with congressional staff who committed to organizing a congressional hearing on immigration for same-sex couples. The hearing was held in 2009.
Along with many other Americans with same-sex partners taking part in the DOMA Project (Stop the Deportations), Martha applied for a green card for her wife Lin in 2012. The application was rejected by the State Department with the rationale “petition denied because your spouse is a woman." They appealed the ruling.
Democrats Abroad Involvement
DA was one of the first US democratic bodies to go on the record in support of immigration rights for same-sex couples;
Love Exiles board members drafted and submitted a resolution supporting the Uniting American Families Act. The resolution passed at the 2006 Democrats Abroad Annual Meeting.
DA subsequently included the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) in congressional doorknocks.
Martha brought the “Love In Exile” workshop to local in-person Democrats Abroad events in Paris, Madrid, and Cologne and the the OutGames Human Rights Conference in Montreal.
Advocacy work on behalf of DA
2009 - Submitted written testimony on behalf of Democrats Abroad leadership to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA)
Attended the June 2009 Senate hearing on the Uniting American Families Act. Following the hearing, met with Senator Patrick Leahy (Chair of the Judiciary Committee) and staff of Senator Feinstein and Jeff Sessions with Shirley Tan (a witness who gave her testimony of being detained and nearly deported) and her partner and children. Shirley Tan’s deportation was put on hold indefinitely following media attention initiated by Love Exiles in the San Jose Mercury and intervention by Senator Feinstein’s and Representative Speier's offices.
2013 WINDSOR RULING: Immigration became available to same-sex couples and their families following the June 2013 Windsor decision, which ruled that section 2 of the Defense of Marriage Act violated the US Constitution.
LGBTQ+ Advocacy and Activism
With the US Consulate in Amsterdam, Martha organized workshops for US citizens and their same-sex partners on the green card process. The workshops called attention to the plight of love exiles within the US State Department.
Martha's work has been featured in interviews, books (People’s Victory: Love in a Time of Exile), Torn Apart, Amor and Exile by Nathaniel Hoffman and Nicole Salgado, reports presented to US Congress , Human Rights Watch report Family, Unvalued, “United by Love, Exiled by Law” in the book Urgency Required / Urgentie Geboden, and in the media (Fortune/CNN Money, New York Times, San Jose Mercury-News, CNN, San Francisco Chronicle, NOS, Radio 1, BNR Radio, Vrij Nederland, AT5, the Volkskrant, and the NRC.
Love Exiles was highlighted as an example of effective activism of Americans abroad in Migrants or Expatriates by A. Klekowski von Koppenfels and the case is taught by Professor Klekowski van Koppenfels in a graduate-level university course.
BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP FOR CHILDREN BORN ABROAD TO US CITIZEN FAMILIES
**This policy change was made by the Biden administration State Department in 2021.**