“Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy shrugged off concerns that offering rights to gay immigrants will kill the sweeping immigration bill as his committee prepares to mark up the legislation on Thursday.
On this particular issue, you know, at some point we’re going to have to face it, and we have to decide when is the best time to face it, [...]You can’t go into a state like mine or — it will be now 11 or 12 states and the District of Columbia — where same-sex marriage is legal, and say to this couple, ‘OK, we can help you with the immigration matter.’ Turn to another couple equally legally married and say, ‘Oh, we have to discriminate against you.’
…He circles back several times to how he wants the process of developing what could be the biggest changes to immigration law in decades to be ‘fair’ and transparent and for all stakeholders to be heard.
‘Both parties, they want … an immigration bill — and the devil is always in the details, and we’ll have to see, but I’m not going to go through all this work and get some little cosmetic bill,’
Earlier today “Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has formally offered an amendment that would provide equal treatment for same-sex couples under immigration law, a proposal that’s likely to spark a heated debate.
Leahy’s amendment would allow gay and lesbian American citizens who are in a “long-term committed relationship” to sponsor their foreign partners for a green card, according to his office. Heterosexual couples can do so under current law, but a provision for same-sex couples was left out of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” immigration bill.”
According to the Gang of Eight, their main reason for skirting the bi-national couple issue is that they believed its inclusion would prevent the bill from being passed by the Senate. While this is a valid fear and compromise is key for any type of immigration reform to pass, it is a shallow fear that does not give a voice to the thousands of brave LGBT immigrants and their families who endure so many unnecessary hardships simply because of who they love. For once I wish politicians would take a chance on the road less traveled to create a more equal future rather than appeasing the narrow platform on which they were elected.
“Leahy’s amendment has long been expected, but it could be one of the most controversial proposals to be debated this week, when the judiciary committee will “mark up” the bill with amendments.”
Although the inclusion of same-sex binational couples is not one of the main four points included in this plan, it is still significant that the issue has a specific mention. It brings hope that the inclusion of such couples will continue to gain support and pass the final draft whenever comprehensive immigration reform finally takes place. The four main points are “changing the country’s employment and family-based immigration system to meet the needs of a global economy; ensuring that adequate resources are devoted to securing the border; mandating an efficient employment verification system to prevent immigrants from working illegally; and providing the 11 million immigrants already in the country illegally with ‘the opportunity to work toward permanent residency with a path to earned citizenship.’ “
The sway of the Justices leanings in the DOMA case were much more one sided and decisive than the first case on Tuesday addressing Prop 8. Many reports from the case confidently state that DOMA is on its way out the door since 5 of the 7 Justices seem in favor of striking down the law. Even though this argument applies to federal recognition of same-sex marriages, which is likely why the Justices felt more comfortable with a ruling compared to Prop 8, it would not necessarily disentangle the complex patchwork quilt of laws across the United States since at the present time, the decision to allow same-sex marriage is still a state issue.
Both the constitutionality of Prop 8 and Section 3 of DOMA, which limits marriage to one man and one woman, will (finally!) be heard by the Supreme Court this week. Although they will be heard this week, most predictions of when rulings will be ready are mid-summer at best. However, despite the long wait on a decision, this week is without a doubt a historic moment in history and the fact that these cases are even coming before the Supreme Court is still hard to believe.
The Huffington Post had a great video today discussing the legal historical and cultural impact of the Supreme Court hearing these two cases as well as the larger issue of changing views when it comes to marriage equality and society: