Lesbian Mom Shirley Tan Gets to Stay in the U.S. For Now


After a temporary stay keeping her from being deported back to the Philippines, lesbian mom Shirley Tan is here to stay. Possibly for good.

In a rare move, California’s Sen. Diane Feinstein introduced a one-off piece of legislation to grant Tan clemency. But it’s not the bill itself, but the legislative process that will keep Tan here: She gets to stay in the U.S. while the Senate decides, over the next 21 months, whether it wants to address the bill (unlikely); if they do bring it up, she’ll get to stay while it’s debated. Which means for the time being she gets to stay at home in the Bay Area with her partner of 23 years, Jay Mercado, and their 12-year-old twin sons.

But it’s not the end of the matter.

Without the passage of the Uniting American Families Act, which will allow same-sex couples to stay together even if one partner is an immigrant, Tan and folks like her (who don’t receive this type of media attention) are at risk of being forcibly separated. Just one more example of how same-sex couples are discriminated against by the feds; our straight counterparts can simply get married to keep one foreign partner in the U.S.

Here’s the note Tan’s attorney’s released when the news arrived about Feinstein’s bill:

A private bill was introduced 0on the floor today on behalf of Shirley Tan. She will not have to leave the USA un til this session of congress ends, and unless UAFA – Uniting American Families Act passes through Congress.

A great big thanks from the Tan-Mercado family to Rep. Speier and her amazing staff as well as Sen. Feinstein and her staff, all of whom showed extraordinary care and diligence through the process. A special mention to the organizations that lent their support. Marriage Equality, Immigration Equality, Out4Immigration, Love Exiles and all the Media that remained so patient and supportive. Sen Boxer is sponsoring UAFA and we now hope that Sen. Feinstein will do the same as many many others are in as bad a predicament as Shirley Tan has been.

When I spoke to Jay today she was crying with joy and said the whole family including the boys were absolutely ovewrwhelmed with emotion. The news was conveyed to her directly by Senator Feinstein’s office. It has been a long and arduous process and so a very special thank you goes to Attorney Phyllis Beech, San Francisco and Fresno. I will write more later – but now I have to call and tell everyone the good news.

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