Media Spotlight Lesbian Mom’s Fight To Stay in America

April 6, 2009
GLAAD is partnering with Immigration Equality on its media efforts to help keep a binational family in Pacifica, California from being separated from her partner of 23 years and their two children.  Shirley Tan is on the brink of deportation to the Philippines after a lawyer failed to tell her she had been denied asylum several years ago. Deportation would take her away from her partner of 23 years, Jaylynn Mercado, and their 12-year-old twin sons, all of whom are U.S. citizens.  A return to the Philippines could also put Tan in harms way, as she fled her country decades ago after a relative tried to murder her.  U.S. Immigration law currently bars gay and lesbian people from sponsoring a partner for permanent residency. Tan was arrested in January and almost deported on April 3.  GLAAD stepped in with emergency media training for the couple, and helped Immigration Equality craft a national press release. California media covered Tan’s case extensively in the last several days. Reporter Mike Swift of the San Jose Mercury News broke the story with a comprehensive report, while The San Francisco Chronicle editorialized sympathetically towards the family.  And several local TV news reports - including a feature on KTVU - have given the family a platform to tell their compelling story. After the first wave of media coverage and the intervention of U.S Representative Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, Tan’s deportation has been delayed until April 22, giving her a very short amount of time to continue pleading her case through legal and legislative channels.  Representative Speier also co-sponsored the Uniting American Families act, or UAFA, a bill now pending in Congress that would allow gay and lesbian American citizens to sponsor their partners for permanent residency. In the weeks leading up to Tan’s new deportation date GLAAD will continue working to secure additional media attention, particularly on national news outlets like CNN and network morning programs like NBC’s Today Show and ABC’s Good Morning America. Around 37,000 binational couples in the U.S. face similar heart-wrenching circumstances, so it's especially vital that Americans see the real impact that discriminatory U.S. immigration law has on loving families like Shirley, Jaylynn and their sons.