U.S. Customs to recognize gay families
The days of being humiliated at the border may soon be over for same-sex couples returning to the U.S. from travel abroad. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is proposing to expand the definition of a family on Customs Declaration Forms to include “two adult individuals in a committed relationship…and couples in civil unions or domestic partnerships.” CBP has also taken a bold step forward in stating that “CBP believes that this proposed change would more accurately reflect relationships between members of the public who are traveling together as a family.” Currently, gay couples traveling together must each go through Customs separately, treated as legal strangers. Homeland Security recently announced: “Under the current regulations relating to family declarations, a family may file a single, aggregated customs declaration only if they satisfy the definition of “members of a family residing in one household.” This definition requires that members of a family traveling together who return to the United States be related “by blood, marriage, or adoption;” live together in the same household at their last permanent residence; and intend to live in the same household after returning to the United States. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) does not believe that the current definition encompasses other relationships where members of the public travel together as a family. CBP believes that the definition unnecessarily limits the number of individuals who may file a family customs decollation for articles acquired abroad.