Patrick Leahy Hub

Elton John Captivates Senate Panel with Testimony on HIV/AIDS: VIDEO


Elton John testified before Congress on AIDS this week for the first time in 12 years, delivering a message to the Senate Appropriations Committee, marking the progress made in more than a decade of fighting HIV/AIDS, and urging the panel to continue funding programs which are helping eradicate it.

Said Elton: "This Congress indeed has the power to end AIDS...There is a window of opportunity before us — a window through which we can very clearly see the end of AIDS — within my lifetime. We cannot afford to let that window close."

The testimony followed a reception the prior evening held by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Patrick Leahy at which John also spoke: "I’m here to say once again that we cannot have lost 40 million lives to HIV and AIDS in vain...Although PEPFAR and the Global Fund have made a huge impact, the reality is that most people living with or at risk of contracting HIV do not have access to lifesaving prevention, care and treatment. But all of that can change, and will change, if Congress remains steadfast in its commitment to ending this epidemic."

Also testifying was anti-gay Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren, who sat beside Elton during the testimony. Elton's husband and Chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation David Furnish, sat directly behind them. Furnish is serving as Grand Marshal of the  2015 Toronto Pride parade this year.



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Senator Patrick Leahy Files Floor Amendment to Immigration Bill for Gay Binational Couples

Senator Patrick Leahy has filed a floor amendment to the immigration bill for gay binational couples, the Washington Blade reports:

LeahySen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced on Tuesday he filed an amendment to comprehensive immigration reform along the lines of a carve-out to the Defense of Marriage Act that he proposed — and withdrew — when the Senate Judiciary Committee was considering the bill.

“Seeking equal protection under our laws for the LGBT community is the right thing to do,” Leahy said in a statement. “I withheld my anti-discrimination amendment during the Senate Judiciary Committee markup. As the entire Senate turns to debate the immigration bill, the fight for equality must go on.”

The amendment filed by Leahy, No. 1182, would repeal part of DOMA to enable married bi-national same-sex couples to apply for a visa through the marriage-based green-card application process.

Read the amendment HERE.

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."

More Signs Gays Will Not Be Included in Immigration Bill

More signals that gay couples will not be included in comprehensive immigration reform, the AP reports:

LeahyTwo people familiar with the Senate immigration deliberations say the White House has suggested to Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy that it would be best to put off a controversy over gay marriage until a bill goes before the full Senate.

President Barack Obama backs the proposal to give equal treatment to gays and lesbians, but is unlikely to veto a broad immigration bill that does not include the provision.

Leahy has not made a decision on demanding a vote, the AP adds:

He could raise the issue again if the bill goes before the full Senate. The people familiar with the deliberations were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and insisted on anonymity. The White House had no comment.

Schumer, Senate Democrats Under Pressure on Gay-Inclusive Immigration Reform

(chris johnson - twitter)

Senate Democrats are increasingly nervous about the prospects of gay-inclusive amendments filed last week by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) killing the comprehensive immigration reform bill, Politico reports:

After strategically keeping the White House at a distance, some key Democrats are privately advocating for the president himself to ask Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chief proponent of the measure, to hold off on offering the amendment until the floor debate, where it’s unlikely to pass.

“He is working behind the scenes,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a Gang of Eight member, told POLITICO when asked whether Democrats wanted Obama to get involved, although declined to get into details. “Obviously it is Sen. Leahy’s call.”

Leahy said he spoke with Obama on Wednesday, but the issue didn’t come up. Even if it did, Leahy said, a presidential intervention wouldn’t necessarily sway him.

“I am the most senior member of the Senate, I’m an experienced chairman. He’s happy I’m handling immigration,” Leahy said. “He hasn’t suggested whether I should or shouldn’t do it because he knows I’ll make up my own mind.”

It's also still unclear whether Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) would vote for the amendments, they add:

After the Gang of Eight didn’t include the protections in the underlying bill, Schumer assured advocates that the issue would get a vote in the Democratic-controlled Judiciary Committee, the most favorable venue for passing the amendment because the threshold is a simple majority, rather than the filibuster-proof majority on the Senate floor.

But now [LGBT advocates] are worried that might not even happen.

2_schumerEarlier, today, Schumer received, via hand delivery from the advocacy group GetEQUAL in coordination with the pro-immigrant organizations, DRM Action and Uniting We Dream, 6,500 petitions urging him to include gay binational couples as part of the legislation.

Reports Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade:

Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, co-director of GetEQUAL, personally handed the names to Schumer’s staff on Thursday as part of a group of about a half-dozen activists.

“It’s interesting because he’s making a political mistake,” Sousa-Rodriguez told the Blade. “The whole reason why this is even happening is because of Latinos, and Latinos hold the key to the White House. But 64 percent of voters support the inclusion of same-sex couples in immigration reform and 59 percent of Latino voters support same-sex marriage. Latinos have turned a page, the country has turned a page, but D.C. keeps being stuck in the ’90s.”

A Brazilian native who’s married to a U.S. citizen, Sousa-Rodriguez is an undocumented immigrant who came to the United States at a young age and would be able to gain citizenship through a marriage-based green card application if the immigration reform included the provision for bi-national couples.

More at the Blade...

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Won't Commit to Voting for Gay-Inclusive Immigration Amendments: VIDEO


Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) won't commit to voting for gay amendments filed by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) if offered up for the immigration reform bill, the NYT reports:

Schumer“I would like very much to see it in the bill, but we have to have a bill that has support to get UAFA passed. That’s the conundrum. Because if there’s no bill, there’s no UAFA, either.”

He added: "Look, this one is something I worry about all the time. I’m a good sleeper, but I wake up in the morning thinking of these things, sometimes early in the morning.”

The paper adds:

Mr. Leahy’s amendments, if offered, promise to create a politically sticky situation for Democrats in the bipartisan group like Mr. Schumer, who personally support the measures but are hesitant to vote for anything they believe could hurt the broader bill. Though Mr. Schumer is already facing pressure from gay rights groups, he declined to say how he might vote.

“I’m not going to get into speculatives,” he said.

Watch an interview Politico did with Leahy about the amendments, AFTER THE JUMP...

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