As promised, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, filed two amendments today that would amend the Senate's immigration-reform bill to extend protections to binational same-sex couples.
"For immigration reform to be truly comprehensive, it must include protections for all families," Leahy said in a statement. "We must end the discrimination that gay and lesbian families face in our immigration law."
If adopted, Leahy's first amendment would add protections to the Senate's 844-page immigration bill that mirror the language of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), which would recognize immigrants in relationships with Americans of the same sex and grant rights denied to immigrants in relationships with Americans of the same sex, including eligibility for green cards, due to the Defense of Marriage Act. According to Leahy's office, his second amendment would provide "equal protection to lawfully married bi-national same sex couples that other spouses receive under existing immigration law."
Senate Republicans, including some of those who are members of the bipartisan "gang of eight" who drafted the Senate bill, have threatened to derail immigration reform over inclusion of same-sex couples. Advocates, however, have blasted such threats.
"If they end up doing that, they should just own it and call it what it is: homophobia," the Human Rights Campaign said in a fiery statement today that also chronicled the momentum for equality in recent years. "Labeling the inclusion of bi-national couples in the immigration bill as toxic is nothing more than a tired, insulting ruse designed to distract attention from their own failure to represent all Americans."
Advocates have indicated that they expect the Judiciary Committee to consider Leahy's amendments next week.
[Photo: Patrick Leahy (Courtesy of the U.S. Senate)]
Read Leahy's amendments here: