DHS updates Customs Declarations Form to recognize LGBT people and families

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that same-sex couples and their children will be able to go through Customs when re-entering the country together instead of being forced to split up. Previously, same-sex couples and their children had to use different forms and go through separately unless they could prove they were related “by blood, marriage, or adoption.” The proposed rule will broaden the CBP’s definition of family to include the children of same-sex partners, regardless of adoption status. The definition will also include same-sex partners by focusing on sharing of financial assets and obligations instead of the sex of the two people when determining what a couple is, which includes civil unions and domestic partnerships.

According to CBP, this change will allow thousands of additional returning residents to file customs declarations as a family unit rather than filing a declaration for every person re-entering the country. Aside from increased efficiency, the proposed rule expands the positive treatment and recognition of LGBT people and families across the country.

At the Task Force, we have been saying for a long time that families are made up or more than rigid definitions of family that only recognize those related by blood, marriage or adoption. This increased awareness and acceptance of LGBT people and their families is part of a trend in federal policy. In 2010 the U.S. Department of Labor expanded definitions within the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to allow domestic partners to better care for their partners’ children.

The trend of recognizing broader definitions of family demonstrates more public support for LGBT people and their families. Changes like this are what the Task Force and its partners in the New Beginning Initiative, a coalition of over two dozen organizations, are working to accomplish in federal policy to benefit the lives of LGBT people and families. The Task Force applauds Customs and Border Protection for taking positive steps to help LGBT families. Finally, congratulations to our friends at the Family Equality Council for their hard work to make this change possible.