Nearly two years since the Obama administration proposed recognizing same-sex couples as families on customs forms, Customs and Border Protection today officially submitted for publication a new rule designed to broaden the definition of “members of a family residing in one household” to include same-sex couples and and other domestic relationships.
According to the CBP, the change in regulation will create less paperwork for U.S. citizens, residents and international visitors who are traveling together as a family and will result in increased efficiency for CBP by streamlining passenger processing.
As part of the new rule, domestic relationship will be defined to include foster children, stepchildren, half-siblings, legal wards, other dependents, and individuals with an in loco parentis or guardianship relationship. The CBP will also recognize two adults who are in a committed relationship including, but not limited to, long-term companions and couples in civil unions or domestic partnerships where the partners share financial assets and obligations, and are not married to, or a partner of, anyone else. The new rules will continue to encompass and recognize relationships of blood, adoption, and marriage.
"This rule is something that we have worked with Homeland Security and the Department of Treasury to achieve for a very long time, and it is wonderful to see them now officially recognize that families come in all forms," said Gabriel Blau, executive director of Family Equality Council. "It will also make it logistically easier and dignified for families when entering the U.S."
The CBP's changes will be effective thirty days after the new rule is published in the Federal Register.