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Immigration Reform May Leave Out Gays.

As a bipartisan immigration reform bill inched its way closer to passage in Washington, gay activists are expressing outrage that gay couples are not included. LGBT activist organizations are insisting the bill should include bi-national couples – in other words, the right of a American citizen to sponsor the immigration of his or her partner regardless of sexual orientation.

Straight couples have, of course, long enjoyed such a right. The Williams Institute at UCLA Law School estimates there are as many as 28,500 such couples, so the issue has numerical significance. Even if only one couple was involved however, the principal of equality before the law would have no less importance in the eyes of LGBT activists and legal experts advocating for reform.

Getting a bill both parties can agree on to deal with the situation of the estimated 11 million persons in the U.S. illegally has been a hugely difficult challenge and party leaders are afraid any divisive amendments could easily sink the whole effort. “Opponents will be proposing amendments that, if passed, could collapse this very fragile coalition that we’ve been able to achieve,” said Senator John McCain (R. Arizona.)

Senator Carl Levin (D. Michigan) stated he was not yet sure if an amendment to include LGBT couples would upset the progress of the bill or not. Even if such an amendment passed the Senate, it would, of course, face a much more difficult fight in the Republican controlled House.

Still smarting from the defeat of the gun control bill, leaders of the Democrats are not inclined to risk another big loss. None the less, LGBT organizations and Hispanic organizations are actively lobbying for the bill to include gays and Senator Patrick Leahy (D. Vermont) is committed to introducing a gay inclusive amendment.

Senator Al Franken (D. Minnesota) pledged a Judiciary Committee hearing to do “everything we can” to force an LGBT inclusive provision. The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops opposes such inclusion and has sent a letter to President Obama warning that such a provision would jeopardize the entire bill.

 

Immigration Reform May Leave Out Gays.

As a bipartisan immigration reform bill inched its way closer to passage in Washington, gay activists are expressing outrage that gay couples are not included. LGBT activist organizations are insisting the bill should include bi-national couples – in other words, the right of a American citizen to sponsor the immigration of his or her partner regardless of sexual orientation.