The Immigration Bill’s Poisonous Gay Amendments

U.S. Senators have submitted their 301 amendments to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, with Republican Sen. Grassley responsible for 77, a quarter of the entire lot. Sen. Sessions comes in second with 49 amendments. Among the Democrats, who authored a third of the amendments, Mazie Hirono has the most, 24.

The Senate Judiciary Committee begins the amendment process Thursday. It will be interesting to see which amendments make the cut and how the measure will look after weeks of what will no doubt be spirited hearings.

LGBT advocates and their allies will be anxiously monitoring two proposals from Sen. Leahy. The amendments seek to rectify the immigration measure which currently excludes lesbian and gay binational couples. GOP senators and conservative activists have warned that inclusion of such couples would be a “poison pill” which would kill the legislation.

The purpose of Leahy’s first pro-LGBT submission is “to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses of citizens and lawful permanent residents.” In short, to treat permanent partnerships the same as marriages for immigration purposes.

Leahy’s second proposal seeks “to recognize, for purposes of the Immigration and Nationality Act, any marriage entered into in full compliance with the laws of the State or foreign country within which such marriage was performed.”

Neither amendment uses the words lesbian, gay, or homosexual. Everyone knows, however, that these changes have to do with same-gender couples. I have said elsewhere that I believe lesbian and gay couples will be left out of immigration reform. Not because I think we should. My husband and I are among the thousands of couples that would benefit. I say so because of the political realities of Washington.

You can watch the HuffPost Live segment where I join the discussion about the immigration bill and gay binational couples here.


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