U.S. Customs to broaden recognition of same-sex families

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection will recognize same-sex couples as families during the customs declaration process following the enactment of a Final Rule sent Friday to the Federal Register.

Under the broadened definition of “members of a family residing in one household,” long-term same-sex couples and other domestic relationships will allow U.S. citizens, along with residents and international visitors, to file a joint customs declaration for required items when they enter the U.S. 

According to Customs and Border Protections, the change in regulation will “more accurately reflect relationships for U.S. citizens, residents and international visitors who are traveling together as a family.” The move is also expected to reduce paperwork and increase the processing of passengers.

The official change in policy regulation is scheduled to take effect 30 days after its publication — expected next week — in the journal of the federal government, the Federal Register. The rule change was first proposed in March 2012. 

Under the broadened 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. 

According to Customs and Border Protections, “included within the definition 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 definition for “members of a family residing in one household” will continue to include relationships of blood, adoption and marriage.

[Photo: JFK Airport. Credit: Doug Letterman/Wikimedia Commons.]

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's political editor and White House correspondent. He can be reached at jsnow@metroweekly.com.

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