Will Gay Inclusion Sour Evangelical Support of Immigration Reform?

The NYT notes that Obama has some unlikely allies in the push for comprehensive immigration reform: evangelical leaders:

"Several evangelical leaders said they were convinced that Hispanics are the key to growth not only for the evangelical movement, but also for the social conservative movement…The support of evangelical leaders is not yet enough to change the equation. But they could mobilize a potentially large constituency of religious conservatives, an important part of the Republican base better known for lobbying against abortion and same-sex marriage. They already threaten the party’s near unity on immigration."

Blackwell And given Evangelical opposition to gays, the paper also notes that, given the recent push by some lawmakers to include LGBT immigration bills as part of comprehensive reform, they may have to choose what's more important to them:

"J. Kenneth Blackwell (pictured), a Republican candidate for Ohio governor in 2006 and now a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group, said he expected more evangelical leaders to come on board.

But Mr. Blackwell said the whole effort could implode if the final legislation extended family reunification provisions to same-sex couples where one spouse did not have legal status. For evangelicals, he said, 'That would be a deal-breaker.'"

Politico adds that some activists say that wouldn't be the case

"Another area of potential tension involves the religious conservatives’ steadfast opposition to recognition of same-sex relationships in any immigration reform bill.

A longtime activist for such recognition, New York attorney Lavi Soloway, said he welcomes the activity from the religious right and isn’t fazed by their prediction. Soloway noted that Roman Catholic bishops have made similar categorical statements in the past, but never actually turned against the legislation. 'We are a small issue. … I don’t think in the end we’re a deal breaker,' he said."


  1. says

    Evangelicals will never stop in their quest to deny equal treatment to gay men and women, and Obama will never fail to pander to their bigotry.

    Expect the worst.

  2. says

    The answer here is inevitably, no; support for immigration reform and our inclusion is much broader and deeper than this attention grabbing headline by Mr. Blackwell. Evangelical support of immigration reform is what it is. Their participation potentially broadens the potential coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, but they are late comers to this issue and have no proven track record of motivating a base for immigration reform. Quite the contrary. The Republicans associated with this movement have been apathetic or opposed to reform. By contrast, Latino Evangelical Leaders have backed inclusion of gay partners in family based immigration and represent a motivated and mobilized community overwhelmingly for reform. If Protestant Evangelicals leaders and their Republican flock are really interested in immigration reform they will have to come to the table willing to offer solutions. Every group at the table has a “deal breaker,” so this kind of threat is naive and nothing new. To get this done, parties will have to decide how important reform is to their constituency. Are Protestant Evangelicals coming to the table with Republican votes and true support for reform, or are they coming to the table to sabotage the work already done and politicize this issue for their own benefit? Immigration activists and the House and Senate leadership who have consistently backed inclusion of gay partners in CIR have heard this all before are backing an inclusive bill. The Senate blueprint explicitly includes a remedy for same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and was drafted by Senators Schumer, Reid and Menendez who were determined to move forward with an inclusive bill despite threats that the United Conference of Catholic Bishops threatened to withdraw support. In the House, CIR drafters Rep. Gutierrez and Rep. Honda along with House leadership have affirmed the inclusion of a same-sex binational couple provision in immigration reform. Our community has been working tirelessly for years with a broad coalition of activists on various immigration initiatives, and must continue to be vocal and active. Late comers with gloomy predictions should not deter us for a moment.

  3. jomicur says

    How is it “unlikely” that Obama would get in bed with fundamentalists? Item: Donnie McClurkin. Item: Rick Warren. Item: His panel of FIVE fundamentalist “spiritual advisers,” who he claims to consult before making decisions. It would be a lot more surprising if Obama did NOT swap spit with the Christers.

  4. Continuum says

    Remember that Republican Blackwell was the same Ohio Secretary of State who made many shady moves in the 2004 Presidential. From trying to block other black voters, to under staffing polling places, to causing a shortage of voting machines. All were his attempts to ensure the election of Republican George Bush.

    Why should anyone trust anything that Blackwell says.

  5. LoveMoby says

    I am cautiously optimistic about this. The UAFA bill is SO important to binationals. It is a life line, quite literally. Unfortunately, my gut tells me the only reason the UAFA language is in it right now is so it can be removed later when the bargaining begins. I hope I am very very wrong.

  6. says

    I think some readers underestimate the amount of work that has been done in the past 17 years to build a broad base of support for a legislative remedy for gay and lesbian binational couples. Giants in the immigration reform movement, mostly Latino community based, but also corporate America, American Immigration Lawyers Association, organized Labor and communities of faith, have stood up for inclusion of same-sex partners in Comprehensive Immigration Reform. What we need now is widespread participation by our community and our allies to ensure that we maintain this historic momentum. We withstood the challenge by the United Conference of Catholic Bishops and ended up with the announced support of Latino Evangelical leaders for inclusion of gay partners in CIR. We should not be pessimistic, we should just redouble our efforts and stay laser focused.

  7. says

    @Jubal: Immigration Equality launched its own 501(c)(4) lobbying organization, a separate entity staffed and based in DC. I would check out their website. http://www.immigrationequalityactionfund.org/

    The most important thing we can do is to tell our stories to members of Congress, to friends, to press, to neighbors, to co-workers, to family and encourage everyone to join the effort to pass a law that remedies this discrimination. Immigration Equality is a great resource for this mobilizing effort. We win by building broad coalitions, and that also means maintaining the hard-won momentum we have by avoiding distracting political posturing. Keep telling our stories, keep getting endorsements from private and public sector groups/entities, and individuals.

  8. Christian in Austin says