Immigration Bill, GOP on Collision Course with Gay Rights, LGBT Families

The issue of immigration legislation that would affect up to 40,000 same-sex couples across the country is about to become a huge issue surrounding the comprehensive immigration reform bill under consideration in Congress as the battle of whether or not to include it comes to a head.

President Obama's immigration reform proposal, unveiled in January, had included LGBT families but those inclusions were not there when the bill was introduced by the 'Gang of Eight' last month.

FlakeThe NYT reports:

Now, with the immigration bill scheduled to advance next week toward a vote in the Judiciary Committee, Democrats are in a quandary about whether to offer an amendment that would give green cards to same-sex partners.

Republican sponsors of the overhaul warned on Tuesday that such an amendment would sink the entire measure.

“There’s a reason this language wasn’t included in the Gang of Eight’s bill: It’s a deal-breaker for most Republicans,” Senator Flake said. “Finding consensus on immigration legislation is tough enough without opening the bill up to social issues.”

LeahySenator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont is considering a separate measure:

Senator Leahy’s bill does not seek to legalize gay marriage. Instead, it would allow an American citizen to petition for a green card for a “permanent partner.” Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican, is a co-sponsor of that bill. “Our legislation would simply update our nation’s immigration laws to treat binational, same-sex permanent partners fairly,” she said on Tuesday.

She and Senate Democrats are looking to Mr. Leahy to decide whether to attach that measure as an amendment to the larger bill. He has not yet tipped his hand.

But in an interview Tuesday with the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Senator Rubio was blunt in his assessment of the impact of any same-sex amendment. “This immigration bill is difficult enough as it is,” he said. “If that issue is injected into this bill, this bill will fail. It will not have the support. It will not have my support.”

RubioPolitico reports that Leahy and HRC are telling advocates he will offer up the measure:

But by doing so, Republicans warn that Democrats will tank the whole bill.

“It will virtually guarantee that it won’t pass,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Gang of Eight negotiating group, told POLITICO in a brief interview. “This issue is a difficult enough issue as it is. I respect everyone’s views on it. But ultimately, if that issue is injected into this bill, the bill will fail and the coalition that helped put it together will fall apart.”

As the legislation moves through the Judiciary Committee and on to the Senate floor, many people will make pronouncements about things that must be kept in or kept out of the bill — but few issues worry the Gang of Eight as much as same-sex partner rights.

Buzzfeed's Chris Geidner adds:

If the provision ends up being added into the bill, Republicans could be given an attempt to remove the provision on the floor, but it almost definitely would fail. At that point, the question would be whether Senate Republicans otherwise inclined to vote for the bill would be willing to give up those political gains in order to eliminate the potential for a gay-rights gain in the immigration reform bill.

Even if included in the Senate bill, the measure likely would not find its way into any House version of immigration reform, which would either lead to a conference committee or a situation similar to that faced by the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization, when House Republicans balked at a more inclusive Senate version in the last session of Congress but relented and passed the Senate version earlier this year.

Posted May 1, 2013 at 8:05am ETC by Andy Towle
in immigration, News