Customs lines for folks entering the United States was just another source of discrimination against same-sex couples. But the inequity might soon be a thing of the past as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announces a proposal to change its policy on the way it processes families through customs. Details follow.
Same-sex couples looking to enjoy the same right to a dual customs screening process that heterosexual couples enjoy received good news from Homeland Security. According to a proposed change that will be officially published on Tuesday, gay and lesbian couples returning to the country will no longer be forced to go through customs separately; instead, same-sex couples can now be processed together, a benefit their straight counterparts have enjoyed for decades.
Reads Homeland Secuirty's proposal:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is proposing to revise its regulations regarding U.S. returning residents who are eligible to file a single customs declaration for members of a family traveling together upon arrival in the United States. Specifically, CBP is proposing to expand the definition of the term “members of a family residing in one household” to allow more U.S. returning residents to file a family customs declaration for articles acquired abroad. CBP anticipates that this proposed change will reduce the amount of paperwork that CBP officers would need to review during inspection and, therefore, facilitate passenger processing. CBP believes that this proposed change would more accurately reflect relationships between members of the public who are traveling together as a family.
Though the No. 1 reason the CBP provides for the rule change is to "reduce the amount of paperwork," we still applaud the move for fairness.
The department is giving the public 60 days from tomorrow to comment on the proposal before issuing a decision.
Let 'em know how you feel here:
• Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments via Docket No. USCBP 2012-0008.
• Mail: Trade and Commercial Regulations Branch, Regulations and Rulings, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 799 9th Street, N.W. (Mint Annex), Washington, D.C. 20229-1179.