USA: Bipartisan Immigration Reform Plan Silent on Bi-National Gay/Lesbian Couples; McCain: Gays Not Important

Written by scott on January 29th, 2013

Washington DC LegislatureThere’s a new plan being floated in the Senate for immigration reform, put together by a bipartisan group of senators. One problem, as noted by the The Washington Blade, is that it makes no mention of bi-national gay and lesbian couples:

A blueprint for comprehensive immigration reform made public on Monday by a bipartisan group of senators contains no provision for bi-national same-sex couples, despite the push among LGBT advocates to include such language in immigration reform. The document, the result of ongoing talks between a “Gang of Eight” after the start of the 113th Congress, would enable a pathway to citizenship for the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. But this path to citizenship would be contingent upon tougher border enforcement measures.

According to Buzzfeed, President Obama plans to include a fix for gay and lesbian bi-national couples in his own version of the plan:

A Democratic source said: “Same-sex couples will be part of his proposal.” A second source confirmed that, unlike the Senate framework released Monday, same-sex bi-national couples — those with one American and one foreign partner — will be included in the White House principles.

Why the, um, oversight by the bipartisan senators’ group? AmericaBlog speculates:

When push comes to shove, Senate Democrats aren’t exactly known for their courage when it comes to civil rights generally, and gay civil rights in particular. As Joe Sudbay wrote about, a lot, during the painful effort to get Democrats to move on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a lot of people in this town, and a lot of Democrats, suffer from political homophobia. It’s the notion that gay civil rights is a third rail they must avoid at all costs, even if the polls, and the public, are on our side. Homophobia is an irrational fear of gay people, and far too many Democrats and Republicans suffer from it. Even after their fear of moving forward on DADT ended up in a resounding repeal that included even more Republicans than we had expected, Democrats are still, obviously, afraid of “the gay.”

Americablog also points out that the senate democrats (Sens. Schumer, Robert Menendez and Dick Durbin) blamed senate republicans for the omission, and promised a later amendment:

“They blamed it on the Republicans…. Schumer was very matter of fact about it, very Machiavellian,” said the source, who asked not to be named. Gay advocates were told that Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) will offer an amendment in his committee to protect gay couples.

Think Progress reports that Senator John McCain, for one, wasn’t afraid to take some responsibility for leaving out this important piece of immigration reform for the LGBT community:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — One of the architects of the bipartisan Senate plan to reform the immigration system — told CBS on Tuesday morning that including binational gay and lesbian couples whose relationships are currently not recognized by the federal government in the proposed legalization process is a “red flag” that is “not of paramount importance.”

Senator McCain continues his long fall from principled republican, who was respected by many democrats, to a sad, confused, spiteful and increasingly bitter partisan thug.


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