Efforts to Include Gay Binational Couples in Immigration Reform Spurned by Senate Panel

Gay and lesbian binational couples have been thrown under the bus on immigration reform. Senator Patrick Leahy withdrew his amendment to the comprehensive bill, Buzzfeed reports:

LeahyA little past 7 p.m., Leahy said, “It is with a heavy heart … I will withhold the Leahy Amendment 7 at this point.”
Leahy offered the amendment a half-hour earlier, saying, “I don’t want to be the senator who asks Americans to choose between the love of their life and the love of their country.”

He added, “Discriminating against people based on who they love is a travesty,” noting that he wanted to hear from the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators about why they didn’t include protections for gay couples in the bill.

Sen. Lindsey Graham went first, saying he opposed the inclusion of gay couples’ protections in the bill.
“If you redefine marriage for immigration purposes [by the amendment], the bill would fall apart because the coalition would fall apart,” he said. “It would be a bridge too far.”

More at Buzzfeed including Leahy's statemtn.

Other senators followed suit, saying the amendment would destroy the bill's chances.

SchumerSaid Senator Schumer, who had been under intense pressure from LGBT advocates this week and even called a meeting of them in his office:

"This is one of the most excruciating decisions I have had to make in my [time] in Congress. … Not to do this is rank discrimination….They’ve made it perfectly clear that if this provision is included … they will abandon [the bill.] … If we make the effort to add it to this bill, they will walk away. … The result, no equality, no immigration bill, everyone loses. … Much as it pains me, I cannot support this amendment if it will bring down the bill.’"

Said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality Action Fund, in a statement in response to the abandonment:

"Despite the leadership of Chairman Leahy, Judiciary Committee Democrats have caved to bullying by their Republican colleagues. There should be shame on both sides of the political aisle today for lawmakers who worked to deny LGBT immigrant families a vote. Despite widespread support from business, labor, faith, Latino and Asian-American advocates, Senators abandoned LGBT families without a vote. From the beginning we told Senator Schumer that it would only get harder to add LGBT families to the bill. We are disappointed that Senator Schumer and his 'Gang of 8' colleagues accepted a false choice between LGBT families and immigration reform, when the truth is that including LGBT families from the outset would have strengthened the bill."

HRC's Chad Griffin released a statement as well:

"As we come together as a nation to tackle our broken immigration system, it is deplorable that a small number of Senators have been able to stand in the way of progress for lesbian and gay couples torn apart by discriminatory laws. Instead of working to achieve common-sense solutions, Senators Graham, Flake, McCain and Rubio threatened to derail the entire immigration bill to appease a small but vocal group of anti-gay social conservatives that will do anything to stop progress for lesbian and gay couples. We are extremely disappointed that our allies did not put their anti-LGBT colleagues on the spot and force a vote on the measure that remains popular with the American people. We will continue to work hard to include bi-national same-sex couples as the bill moves to the floor and remain committed to the underlying principles of inclusive and comprehensive immigration reform. We owe it to the estimated 267,000 undocumented LGBT adults and estimated 24,700 LGBT bi-national couples living in the U.S. today to get the job done."

Comments

  1. melvin says

    Schumer has to be the most worthless pos in the senate. Always trying to claim the high ground while doing absolutely nothing. Transparently gutless, soulless and utterly lacking a moral compass. Is this the best New York can manage?

  2. Chris says

    I’m as left-wing as it gets but this does make me think of how Margaret Thatcher once said: “When I retire from politics, I’m going to start a business called ‘Rent-A-Spine'”. Include Same-sex couples in this bill, let the republicans vote against it, and let America see what kind of despicable people these republican politicians are. It would be a gift to the democrats right about now.

  3. disgusted merikkkan says

    ..I swear Id love to kick Lindsey Graham right in her Closet case VaJJ

  4. trees says

    Shame on you Schumer! So everyone wins except LBGT people? This is your idea of fairness? You are a spineless turncoat.

  5. Adam says

    Weasel words from Leahy and Schumer. Finally the GLBT community may wake up to the fraud known as the Democratic Party.

  6. Jim says

    The GOP is responsible for this, not Schumer and the Democrats.

    The Democrats had to choose between doing nothing and making life better for millions of immigrants but excluding us gays.

    I hope they can get to equality soon, but I understand why they couldn’t get it in this bill.

  7. LetSodomRing says

    I really question the motive and racial bias of people who are so vested in including a DOMA loophole in this bill. Why is it so important to include something that will be made irrelevant by a Supreme Court decision in a month? A decision that will likely come before the bill even passes. Now why is it so important to these white middle upper class citizens that an immigration reform bill, which doesn’t pertain to their sheltered, suburban lives at all, include a worthless provision that will derail the entire thing? Apparently, they’d rather see families continue to get ripped apart rather than have our leaders not kiss their rainbow-colored rings. No, you don’t get this one. Deal with it. Or not. Leave the country and make room for people who’d actually appreciate it.

  8. melvin says

    Tiresome as Miss Graham is, she is not incharge of the Senate. Look to Reid, Leahy, Schumer, Feinstein as the authors of this fustercluck. The leadership is unwilling to propose any bills but apple pie and motherhood. The Senate no longer functions at all. We do not have a functional government except the one on Wall Street.

  9. Ben says

    Wake up and smell the roses boys. You’re not as important as you think you are.

  10. says

    Fact is it was the proper choice sometimes sacrifices must be made for the greater good DOMA is most likely on its way out so immigration issues will be settled by that ruling. This effects millions of people a d can’t be put on hold just to appease a few thousand the needs of the many out weight the needs of a few

  11. says

    Binational same-sex couples need to be treated the same as binational heterosexual couples in the immigration process. That’s not up for dispute, and only Republicans are against it in both theory and practice. How that comes about is less important than making sure it happens.

    The amendments were one way, and kudos to Sen. Leahy for pushing for them. (Far from a fraud, Sen. Leahy has already done a great deal for binational same-sex couples–the same can’t be said for any Republican Senator and for quite a few Democrats.) All the more reason why Section 3 of DOMA must fall in June.

  12. melvin says

    This will not stand Mr Spock, this nonsense of the theoretical needs of the many outweighing the real here, now, today needs of what you choose to call the few.

    Bad as towleroad comment threads are, the only thing that could make them worse is an infestation of theory.

  13. Ben says

    What you would like to happen, and what will, are two different things. Even Schumer couldn’t persuade. Welcome to America. Reality is not on a blog.

  14. walter says

    hey chuckie cheese find something to do the last sunday in june . please keep your smile home if you march expect the boos to be deafening. you displayed a total lack of courage

  15. LetSodomRing says

    Yeesh, cries from the self-appointed martyrs of gay suburbia continue. There are actual substantive concessions and compromises galore in this bill. If only the ridiculous fines, extravagant border security, a grotesquely long wait period and a cutoff date that expired two years ago contained within this bill’s treacherous path to citizenship were all on their way out through a pending Supreme Court case. Immigrants and their advocates aren’t complaining and calling their Democrats who supported this version of the bill traitors to the cause. And yet, some of you gay activists are threatening mutiny on the Good Ship Lollipop. Toughen up.

  16. Adam says

    Schumer and Leahy are spineless twits. Who needs enemies when your so-called friends fail to stand up for you?

  17. Adam says

    Schumer and Leahy are spineless twits. Who needs enemies when your so-called friends fail to stand up for you?

  18. Brian says

    Two thoughts:

    1) The Democratic Party, as usual, is completely useless.

    2) Someone should out Lindsey Graham — vividly. Confront him at every public event and ask him about his boyfriends. Publish the names and dates of his various same-sex trysts. And so on. His sexuality is an open secret in DC that has been “protected” for far too long.

    Let the Senator explain — as an outed gay man — why he’s opposed to the bill.

  19. Brian says

    “cries from the self-appointed martyrs of gay suburbia continue”

    Oh, shut up already.

    This bill puts the interests of illegal non-citizen law-breakers — ahead of actual US citizens (suburban and otherwise).

    I’m all for immigration reform, but reform that puts the interests of non-Americans ahead of actual LGBT US citizens illustrates our third-class status vividly. Queer Americans have more rights in a foreign country like Canada or Britain than in our own country, even as blatant foreign scofflaws are getting concessions for themselves and their family members that we cannot get.

    As for the SCOTUS case, its outcome is far from certain, and the fact that it’s the only hope of LGBT Americans underscores just how utterly useless our “allies” in the Democratic Party are. Without the legal victories in state and federal courts to date, we’d have NO progress at all.

    Contrast that with both major parties’ efforts to provide a path to legal residence and citizenship to people who simply ignored the law.

  20. Sam says

    You sound like a bunch of brats. What have you done about the issue? Your ass isn’t winning many supporters.

  21. helen says

    Lol! Sodomites please understand that every serious demographic study suggest that you are around 4 percent of the population…and you tend to congregate in urban centers. Your votes barely measure nationally. Juxtapose this with an ever expanding Hispanic population and it becomes absolutely comic that you guys expected the Dems to commit political seppuku for your measely votes.

    I know you sodomites are legends in your owns minds with your fancy dinners and self-congratulating awards. But let me put it in blunt political terms. Had every soddy voted for Romney, Obama would have still won. On the other hand if every Hispanic had done the same…we would now have a President who wears magic underwear.

  22. helen says

    Lol! Sodomites please understand that every serious demographic study suggest that you are around 4 percent of the population…and you tend to congregate in urban centers. Your votes barely measure nationally. Juxtapose this with an ever expanding Hispanic population and it becomes absolutely comic that you guys expected the Dems to commit political seppuku for your measely votes.

    I know you sodomites are legends in your owns minds with your fancy dinners and self-congratulating awards. But let me put it in blunt political terms. Had every soddy voted for Romney, Obama would have still won. On the other hand if every Hispanic had done the same…we would now have a President who wears magic underwear.

  23. helen says

    Lol! Sodomites please understand that every serious demographic study suggest that you are around 4 percent of the population…and you tend to congregate in urban centers. Your votes barely measure nationally. Juxtapose this with an ever expanding Hispanic population and it becomes absolutely comic that you guys expected the Dems to commit political seppuku for your measely votes.

    I know you sodomites are legends in your owns minds with your fancy dinners and self-congratulating awards. But let me put it in blunt political terms. Had every soddy voted for Romney, Obama would have still won. On the other hand if every Hispanic had done the same…we would now have a President who wears magic underwear.

  24. says

    Bi National Couples are treated equal to straight couples in the Netherlands……they are given benefits and residence……even though ONE OF THEM IS AMERICAN !!!!!

    What’s wrong with you all ?
    Don’t you get it ?
    A bi-national couple should get the same treatment here in USA as the foreign country gives to a same sex couple married in Mass.

    What is wrong with the USA ?
    Is it afraid that foreign countries treat married Americans better that the USA does ?

  25. Steve says

    The bill will probably fail anyways with or without gays. Remember, Republicans only care about white hetero god fearing males.

  26. says

    @
    I think you make the same point.The USA shows bias and malice towards its own citizens.

    The USA offends all Human Rights Law in treating same sex citizens less equally in the USA than in the foreign country of that relationship. Even though they are welcome as a bi-national same sex couple in the country of the foreign spouse none the less the USA treats them as a nullity…….they get more respect abroad.
    It’s incredible that the USA acts so un American towards its own citizens that they have to take refuge in the foreign country in order to live together.

    Shame on the USA on this issue.
    The USA offends all Human Rights Law in treating same sex couples in this peremptory way.

  27. really says

    stow the pitchforks. leahy is a good person who had to do what he had to do for the greater good. he’s probably sick over this. ease up. when gays can marry nationally, this will be a different story.

  28. LetSodomRing says

    Brian, you are a true moron and indicative of the people whining about this. You know less than nothing about this bill and yet have the audacity to write about it. How exactly do you think this bill pits the interests of non-Americans against gay Americans? You do know this is a bill that pertains to immigration reform, right? It’s not here to strip citizenship from gay Americans and give them to the people who grow your food, though by all that is just and right, it should.

  29. says

    Why do people who insist gay people aren’t important spend half their days trolling under silly names like helen on gay blogs? Don’t you, like, have loved ones at home, or a dog? Very odd.

  30. Belthazar says

    First, the hyperbolic language serves nothing and no one: “just how utterly useless our “allies” in the Democratic Party are. Without the legal victories in state and federal courts to date, we’d have NO progress at all.”

    Further, the statement makes no sense unless you are arguing that Republicans overwhelmingly passed marriage equality in 12-states through the legislative or referendum process.

    Second, as others have stated, I believe the overturning section 3 of DOMA will make the point moot. Putting aside DOMA, while it is fine to have a “rant session”, no one is explaining how the bill gets passed if the LGBT provision is included. It surely would have been filibustered (4 R-Senators on record and that’s not counting the ‘real’ crazies) thereby requiring 60-votes.

    So, how do you get the 60 votes needed to get to a floor vote?

  31. Adam says

    Wasn’t one of the reasons for voting Democrat that we would get pro-gay immigration reform? I want my vote back.

  32. PE says

    No Adam, the reason for voting Democrat was have the least anti-gay party in the government. Democrat holds minority in the house.

  33. will says

    Too many people here are like willful children living in CandyLand. I want what I want when I want it! Like we have some god-given constitutional RIGHT to be included in immigration reform (we do not).

    I hear this same reaction when sanctimonious people say “The public has NO RIGHT to vote on my private life”. Yes, in a democracy they do. In a democracy the public can vote and the legislature can legislate the will of the majority.

    Our time will come. The public is on our side now. We’ve changed and are changing hearts and minds. THAT’S how democracy works. There is no way to get immigration reformed passed in this House including protections for gay binationals. Any gay-friendly amendments will kill the bill in the House — every damn GOP congressman has been telling us this but we’re obstinate and live in a bit of an echo chamber. The Tea Party and GOP still hold the House majority.

  34. Francis #1 says

    When gays can marry nationally, this won’t be an issue? Well, considering that won’t be the case nationwide in MANY YEARS that’s not the answer. Waiting is not the answer. It’s not sanctimonious to be tired of waiting and tired of inequality. Regardless of what happens with the SCOTUS ruling, the message of second class citizenship has been made loud and clear. We’ve been thrown under the bus several times regarding ENDA with zero real effort made to ensure it’s passage. In the VAWA bill, there is no mandate to protect LGBT victims in states. What the VAWA bill did was outline discrimination against LGBT victims is unlawful (important) but there’s zero mandate of funds to LGBT-violence shelters, education and programs (there was and it got rewritten of the final bill, even though we’re exponentially more likely to be victims of sexual violence). And now, deleted from the immigration bill.

    With that being said…….we got DADT repeal through, although it took much pulling of teeth. We got the Matthew Shepard legislation through. We got an inclusive, if flawed, VAWA through just a few months ago. That’s ALL Democrats right there. Without Democrats, we lose on all three. So no, kissing up to the Democratic party, I won’t do. But remember at the end of the day, who our enemies are and aren’t. Democrats, for the most part, are not the enemy. It’s Republicans. The three states recently that have passed marriage equality are Democratic-controlled states. The most LGBT positive President in American history is a Democrat. The only people in Congress who pushed for a fully inclusive immigration bill are Democrats.

    Democrats in Congress, many don’t fight for us the way they should fight for us. I don’t like that. Some gays are apologists and I don’t like that. But the enemy is by and large Republicans (and the few anti-gay Democrats). It’s very disappointing and disheartening to have our rights, once again, used as a wedge issue and politicized, but the blame needs to be placed on the real enemies of equality.

    Lastly…..some of you guys are relying WAY too hard on DOMA/Prop 8 going perfectly for us. Anything could happen. There’s a fair chance both could be punted on completely. Then what? As far as I know the issues relating to LGBTQ issues in immigration aren’t completely magically solved with a positive DOMA ruling. We need to ensure our legislators, our Congressmen and Congresswomen are doing the job. We can’t just hope and pray court cases go our way. We can talk about the future, what polls say, or we can talk about the right now, which is that we’re not equal, we’re treated as unequal, and inequality is ruining lives and we don’t truly know when the inequality is going to end.

  35. says

    @francis if section 3 is stuck down the immigration issue becomes void as permenat residence cards”green cards” are considered a federal benefit of marriage. Also deal with it the Dems did what any logical political group would do they sacrificed a smaller group for a much larger groups whose needs far outway those of the smaller group. When you can save millions for sure or risk saving no one the choice is pretty obvious.

  36. Chris says

    EVEN without the LGBT provisions, according to NPR, I’m not sure that immigration reform has a snowball’s chance in the House. Again, scream at Leahy, Schumer, et al all you want. At the end of the day, you want a bill to get to the President’s desk.

  37. Victor says

    I’m sorry, but did everyone screaming here forget how hard it was for the Democrats to push through DADT repeal? Did you forget how many hoops that legislation had to jump through? How parts of it had to be cut out to barely make it, squeak through Congress? Why do you expect a LGBT-couples related legislation would have an easier time?

    Whatever else can be said about Schumer, he is a sober politician, who knows what he can do and what he can’t. And, though I am one of the people implicated by non-inclusion in this bill – my bf is not an American – I trust Schumer’s sense. (Don’t forget, he’s also a lawyer, so I’m sure he knows what the chances are for the good decision on DOMA from SCOTUS.

  38. Wayne says

    WAKE UP. Obama and the DEMS will throw us under the bus THE MINUTE our quest for equality threatens their hold on power- EVERY SINGLE TIME. How many times do these cowards have to prove this sad fact before the LGBT Community finally decides to STOP SUPPORTING THESE COWARDS?

  39. MrRoboto says

    @Lee. If Section 3 gets knocked down by SCOTUS, gay binational couples living in states that haven’t enacted marriage equality laws are still in the same boat. They’re still not legally wed and thus in eligible for the federal “green card” that their American spouse could sponsor.

  40. Brian1 says

    (I’m the Brian that’s always fighting with Rick/Jason and ratbastard and not the brian who’s been commenting on this post earlier. I’m going to go by Brian1 in future towleroad posts.)

    I’m part of a binational couple stranded overseas and would have benefited hugely from this bill. But I’m also a realist, and this was never going to get past the senate much less the house. I’m fairly optimistic on one of the supreme court cases, which realistically was the only viable option for fixing this ridiculous situation.

    I do think, though, that the Democrats should really be pushed to support Rep. Nadler’s bill, a separate motion to allow gay partners to live in the US. It doesn’t mess up the immigration bill, it also doesn’t stand a chance of passage, but at least we get all the democrats on record as supporting this, which might be useful at some point in the future.

  41. me says

    It’s neat how actual citizens don’t matter to him, yet people that blatantly broke the law do.

  42. Ryan says

    This is why I won’t donate to HRC.. they always come across as spineless weaklings.

  43. Jim says

    I’m part of binational couple too, so this is a disappointment, but I do think it’s essential to pass some sort of legislation regarding immigration. The Republican party is showing its true colors. I’m sure the Dems are counting on the Obama administration to rectify the discrimination. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will strike down DOMA and allow gay binational couples the same rights as heterosexuals. It’s just a question of time. Moving forward on immigration is important.

  44. says

    @ Brian 1
    @ Jim :

    This is exactly what I have been writing about for years – the fact that American Citizens in a same sex relationship are treated better abroad than here in the USA.
    The failure of the USA to recognize foreign marriages is in breach of its obligations under Private International Law.

    Each country is obliged to recognize and give effect to marriages which are valid in the place of performance.
    So a bi-national couple validly married in Netherlands etc MUST be fully recognized under USA Private International Law.

    This is why I scoff at the so called “equal treatment” clause; this is why I scoff at “all men are created equal”
    Such a pretense.
    As for SCOTUS, don’t hold your breath. I’m not as sanguine on the outcome of the DOMA case as most of you are.

  45. Gregoire says

    Wayne your statement is so idiotic and devoid of rationale that it make me laugh.

    “WAKE UP. Obama and the DEMS will throw us under the bus THE MINUTE our quest for equality threatens their hold on power- EVERY SINGLE TIME. How many times do these cowards have to prove this sad fact before the LGBT Community finally decides to STOP SUPPORTING THESE COWARDS?”

    LOL Nice use of outrage caps.Thanks for the laughs!

  46. Michael says

    All the pious platitudes from senators about equality are rendered just crap with such actions. I would like to see the Republicans exposed for what they are. That said, I want to know how the commerce clause of the constitution, which makes contracts in one place valid in all others, can be ignored when all marriage law is based in contract law? In effect, for the Republicans, marriage is a “small business” and Republicans seem to be in support of “small business.”

  47. David Hearne says

    Actually including “gay binationals” in the bill would be the smartest thing that the Congressmen can do. It won’t pass, but they can say “We tried” to the foreigners passing themselves off as Americans (aka Latinos for open borders) and to the gay community as well.

  48. Moron trolls are dumb says

    For the people complaining about the LGBT vote and “what we’ve done lately,” I refer you to the 2010 election.

    When the Democrats skipped out on their promises to end DADT, LGBT voters responded by halting donations and staying home.

    The result was a historical routing of the Democratic Party in Congress. Pelosi went from House Speaker to Minority Leader. And the Democrats came back with their hats in their hands.

    Us and our families and friends will happily repeat this process again in 2014, 2016 and onwards — we don’t need to support Democrats who vote and govern like Republicans.

  49. Brian says

    “You know less than nothing about this bill and yet have the audacity to write about it.”

    Actually, I know plenty about it.

    It puts non-US citizens who deliberately violated immigration laws on a fast track to citizenship — an opportunity that they wouldn’t get without this bill.

    Meanwhile, actual US citizens with legitimate spouses who wouldn’t dream of violating the law and then demanding a special right to citizenship ex-post-facto are being told to go to hell and make way for foreign nationals.

  50. Steven says

    This is the letter I sent to Sen Leahy this morning:
    Dear Sen Leahy,
    I abhor your recent actions on removing the gay rights portion of the immigration bill before the Senate committee. You sacrificed responsible legislation to the altar of Neatherthal thinking by such as Sen. Lindsey Graham.
    Certainly compromise is something I applaud, but for something that is now polling greater than 50% (the rights of gays to marry) I feel it is more important to show America who these dinosaurs are. Republicans will not allow Democrats to change their bills, it’s only an up or down vote. Why should you not play similar hardball? Make them vote against the entire immigration bill because they hate gays. It will show the world who they really are — uncompromising old fools who should be put out to pasture because they cannot change with the times. Ever since repugnicrats have got it in their head that they have to toe the line of someone outside of the government (Mr Grover Norquist, et. al) they will not even consider the ability to compromise. Why not keep calling them on these outside pledges. Make them make the choice between government reform and compromise, and sucking up to perverted non-thinking one-sided edict issuers. You just gave the republicsaurs everything. Those fools are behind the curve on the entire issue and you make the United States look like it is no better than Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt or any of the Muslim Sharia-based governments’ treatment of gays.
    You just told me that my foreign born husband is not as good as his sisters who are married to men. SHAME ON YOU! SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! You also just told your gay constituents in Vermont that they are not worth a single thing in world unlike your heterosexual married constituents.
    Even if DOMA is overturned by the SCOTUS your removal of the amendment would still not give mixed nationality relationships protection.
    So in final, I want to thank you for acting like a Dixiecrat.
    Sincerely yours,

  51. MCnNYC says

    Ok so Schumer and Leahy and Fienstein are ALL PLAYING POLITICS.
    But they and Reid and the Democratic Party suck at Playing POLITICS.
    They give the Republicans Hispanic cred in elections.
    And in the game of politics the Dems get nothing.

  52. says

    on Lindsey Graham ……

    to paraphrase Ethan Mordden, “He walked past us in the flat-footed but hip-rolling gait of the queen who believes that everyone thinks he’s straight.”

    yup.

  53. greg says

    So a straight person can marry someone from another country but we cannot? How spineless of Schumer. And surprising.

  54. Rich says

    I have no more reason to support this immigration reform. I’m not surprised that DiFi backed out — she opposed domestic partnership when she was Mayor of San Francisco.

    The Democratic Party may be the lesser of two evils, but they won’t get my support.

  55. says

    @ greg :
    Yes, yes , a thousand times yes.
    Straights get much more rights because of their foreign marriages than we do with the same valid foreign marriage.

    It goes without saying that a US marriage give similar rights to straights only.

    It’s the position of the Recognition of Foreign Marriages that I rant about !!!!!