Hours before President Barack Obama is set the unveil his immigration plan during a speech in Las Vegas, Sen. John McCain said that comprehensive immigration reform that includes rights for binational same-sex couples is “not of paramount importance.”
Appearing Tuesday on CBS's This Morning, the Arizona Republican responded to a BuzzFeed report that Obama will include rights for same-sex couples in his plan for immigration reform, stating, "Well, it's something that frankly is not of paramount importance at this time."
"We'll have to look at it, we'll have to gauge how the majority of Congress feels, but that to me is a red flag that frankly we will address in time," McCain said, adding that there are still a number of "very difficult issues" that need to be resolved.
McCain is one of the eight senators who revealed the outline for the Senate's plan for immigration reform at a press conference yesterday. The bipartisan working group on immigration reform, dubbed the "gang of eight," did not include provisions in their plan that would allow gay Americans to sponsor their partners for citizenship as straight Americans can.
Under the Defense of Marriage Act, immigrants in relationships with Americans of the same-sex are denied various protections, including eligibility for green cards, because the federal government does not recognize such relationships.
According to Family Equality Council, there are more than 36,000 binational same-sex couples living in the United States today. Nearly half of them are raising children.
Although the Senate's plan for immigration reform is not finalized, inclusion of rights for binational same-sex couples might prove to be one of the most controversial aspects of immigration reform.
In a statement released yesterday, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality Action Fund, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund and National Center for Transgender Equality said immigration reform "must include the ability of couples in same-sex relationships to sponsor their spouse or permanent-partner in the same way opposite-sex couples have long been able to under current immigration law."
Watch McCain's comments here: