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Immigration Reform Amendment For Gay Couples Withdrawn

WASHINGTON -- Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had to make what the New York senator called an "excruciating" decision on Tuesday to come out against including LGBT couple provisions in their immigration reform bill, citing the need to keep the fragile balance in the "gang of eight."

Sounding disappointed, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) withdrew the amendment after debate during a markup on the bill.

"I take the Republican sponsors of this important legislation at their word that they will abandon their own efforts if discrimination is removed from our immigration system," Leahy said. "So, with a heavy heart, and as a result of my conclusion that Republicans will kill this vital legislation if this anti-discrimination amendment is added, I will withhold calling for a vote on it. But I will continue to fight for equality."

Leahy brought up his amendments on same-sex couples during a markup of the immigration bill after some uncertainty that he would force discussion on it at all. Under current law and the Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex couples cannot petition for legal status for the foreign-born partner, even if they're legally married in their state. That means that thousands are forced to live separately for months or years, or even leave the United States to be with their partners.

The gang of eight bill left out measures that would give LGBT couples the same ability to petition for legal status, even though Democrats in the group said they pushed for it. Although President Barack Obama supports the measure, the White House has also indicated he would accept a bill without it.

As a whole, it put Democrats in a difficult position, as Republicans threatened that adding the measure to the bill would kill their support. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she supports allowing LGBT couples to petition for legal status, but said she would "implore [Leahy] to hold up on this amendment at this time."

Schumer called it "rank discrimination" to exclude same-sex couples and said it is a "basic principle of fairness" that they should be allowed to petition for foreign-born spouses. But he also said he opposed adding the amendment, "one of the most excruciatingly difficult decisions" in his time in public office.

"As much as it pains me, I cannot support this amendment if it would bring down the bill," he said. "I'm a politician. That means I have chosen my life's work in the constraints of the system to accomplish as much good as I can. I accept the tough choices, the painful but necessary imperfection of compromise, which is a part of our system of government."

Durbin made a similarly pained statement. "I believe that this is the wrong moment, and this is the wrong bill," he said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the Republicans who has said the LGBT provision would be a poison pill, repeatedly voiced his argument that he could not support the bill if the amendment was added.

"You've got me on immigration, you don't have me on marriage," he said. "I just can't tell you more directly. If you want to keep me on immigration, let's stay on immigration."

LGBT rights groups were dismayed with the decision. Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality Action Fund, said in a statement that senators "abandoned LGBT families without a vote."

“There should be shame on both sides of the political aisle today for lawmakers who worked to deny LGBT immigrant families a vote," she said.

by Anonymousreply 805/22/2013

Here's a moveon.org video that includes some comments from an LGBT immigration activist.

by Anonymousreply 105/22/2013

Once again, hate-mongering Fundie Rethuglicans win the day on Capitol Hill. Now lets hear from the DL starry-eyed Dems how we're going to win all those seats in Congress during the mid-term election.

Yeah! Right!

by Anonymousreply 205/22/2013

Republicans are human filth.

by Anonymousreply 305/22/2013

Someone out that fundie piece of shit Miss Lindsay. NOW. A nice pic of her on her knees sucking a big black Latino dick. Or even better up her bigoted ass. Scum.

by Anonymousreply 405/22/2013

The surprising ones are Feinstein and Franken. WTF?

by Anonymousreply 505/22/2013

These fucking Republicans.

by Anonymousreply 605/22/2013

Homophobia and bigotry win out in US immigration reform debate

Once again political leaders of both parties sell out the gay community. It's not right. Shame on Democrats for conceding

Gavin Newsom; guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 22 May 2013 15.01 EDTt

It is outrageous. Once again the gay community is reminded of where it stands with the political leadership, both Democrats and Republican. Their rights have been traded away for the sake of a political deal in Washington DC. The Senate Judiciary Committee, after five days of deliberations, passed out the "Gang of 8" comprehensive immigration reform bill on Tuesday, but without protections for same-sex couples. That means a partner of the same sex could be denied a visa to come to the US.

The rights of the gay community are being dealt away once again for political expediency. This issue is not about policy or principle for congressional Republicans, it is about homophobia and bigotry. There is no moral courage for Republicans in this debate, there is only tactical positioning.

Would we allow Congress to treat women this way? No.

Would we allow Congress to treat African Americans or Latinos this way? No.

Why is it acceptable for Washington politicians to treat gay and lesbian couples this way?

Congress cannot continue to treat the gay community as second-class citizens. I applaud Senator Patrick Leahy (a Democrat from Vermont) for having raised the issue and preparing two amendments to the immigration reform bill. One amendment allows immigration rights for same-sex couples with permanent partners and the other affords immigration rights to married same-sex couples.

But at the end of the day, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida held the bill hostage for the sake of bigotry and hatred. There is no morality or conviction here for Republicans; there is only politics. Senator John McCain, the former Republican presidential candidate from Arizona, recently reminded Americans what this debate is about for Republicans when he pointed out that without the immigration reform bill, the they cannot even "begin the conversation with our Hispanic voters, and all you have to do is the math".

Republicans need this bill to remain relevant with Latino voters and Democrats need to call their bluff. This is an opportunity to put our principled democratic values up against the right's homophobia.

Rubio called the same-sex amendments a poison pill that would have killed the deal. But Rubio and his Republican colleagues cannot afford to lose immigration reform for fear of losing elections. If there is one thing Republicans despise more than gays, it is losing elections.

The gay community and their allies need to speak loud and let leaders in Washington know that enough is enough. They need to count on congressional Democrats to protect their civil rights, and if they fail to do so, they should expect to lose campaign money, volunteers and support.

At what point do Congress and President Barack Obama decide once and for all that civil rights are universal and not subject to the whim of a minority party, representing a dwindling minority view about gay and lesbian couples?

It is time for Washington to get on the right side of history.

by Anonymousreply 705/22/2013

^

by Anonymousreply 805/22/2013
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