Nepolitano – Binational gay couples will now be treated fairly

“I applaud the Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor holding that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. This discriminatory law denied thousands of legally married same-sex couples many important federal benefits, including immigration benefits.

“I am pleased the Court agreed with the Administration’s position that DOMA’s restrictions violate the Constitution.

“Working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, we will implement the decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws.” – Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano, via press release.

Impact of DOMA decision – Binational couples and immigration

Today’s ruling by the US Supreme Court on the unconstitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act will have sweeping effects on many levels for married gay and lesbian couples. Among those will be the ability to apply for a green card for foreign national spouses.

Via Immigration Equality:

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling striking down a core provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), lesbian and gay Americans will now be eligible to apply for green cards on behalf of their foreign national spouses, the organization Immigration Equality announced today. The court ruled today, in United States v. Windsor, that Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibited the federal government from conferring benefits to married same-sex couples, is unconstitutional. That provision of the law made it impossible for lesbian and gay couples to receive immigration benefits, including green cards.

“At long last, we can now tell our families that yes, they are eligible to apply for green cards,” said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality. “Many of our families have waited years, and in some cases decades, for the green card they need to keep their families together. Couples forced into exile will be coming home soon. Americans separated from their spouses are now able to prepare for their reunion. Today’s ruling is literally a life-changing one for those who have suffered under DOMA and our discriminatory immigration laws.”

Sen. Marco Rubio threatens immigration reform if it includes something for “gay couples”

Sen. Marco Rubio promised again today that he will torpedo the current immigration reform legislation that he helped craft if the amendment allowing gay US citizens to sponsor their foreign partners is not removed.

From Yahoo News:

“If this bill has something in it that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill. I’m done,” Rubio said Thursday during an interview on the Andrea Tantaros Show. “I’m off it, and I’ve said that repeatedly. I don’t think that’s going to happen and it shouldn’t happen. This is already a difficult enough issue as it is.”

The amendment, introduced by Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, would grant green cards to foreign partners of gay unauthorized immigrants who seek legal status under new rules in the bill.

Leahy originally introduced the measure during the Senate Judiciary Committee markup of the bill, but he withdrew it under pressure from Republican lawmakers who said it would reduce the chance of the bill passing.

Sen. Leahy re-introduced his amendment on Tuesday and won applause from several LGBT rights groups.

That being said, I don’t see the amendment surviving the debate and markup process in the Senate. And even if it somehow did survive, the GOP controlled House would never go for it.

So while it’s a nice gesture from Sen. Leahy, I think it’s more symbolic than anything at the end of the day. This won’t be our turn, in my opinion.

Repeal DOMA and the problem goes away.

Sen. Patrick Leahy files his amendment to include LGBT binational couples in immigration reform

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D – VT), has filed an amendment to the ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration bill that would allow the spouses of gay and lesbian U.S. citizens to become permanent residents according to POLITICO.

Last month, Leahy withdrew the measure in committee, after an emotional debate during the committee markup, after several Democrats said they would vote against his amendment in order to preserve the overall bill.

Now, Sen. Leahy is determined to at least get a vote on his amendment

“Seeking equal protection under our laws for the LGBT community is the right thing to do,” Leahy said in a statement Tuesday. “I withheld my anti-discrimination amendment during the Senate Judiciary Committee markup. As the entire Senate turns to debate the immigration bill, the fight for equality must go on.”

Chances are slim to none that this will end up being a part of the “comprehensive immigration reform.” BUT thank you Sen. Leahy for stepping up and at least being heard.

I think Leahy rocks. And Vermont must be very proud to have him as their Senator.

LGBT-inclusion will definitely NOT be a part of immigration reform bill

As the current immigration reform legislation was being considered last night by the US Senate Judiciary committee, it became clear that GOP opposition to inclusion of LGBT rights would kill the bill. After months of threats to derail the legislation, last night the Republican senators on the committee made good their promises.

As such, Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the committee said, “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.”

Sen. Leahy asked those who stood against the amendment to add LGBT protections to the bill to address the issue.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned that “the bill would fall apart because the coalition would fall apart” if the amendment was adopted. “It would be a bridge too far,” Graham said.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake: “It would certainly mean this bill would not move forward.”

The fear of losing the entire bill proved too much for some Democrats on the committee. Senators Feinstein, Durbin and Schumer all expressed their sadness at the lack of LGBT inclusion but said the loss of the full legislation outweighed the amendment.

Said Schumer, “They’ve made it perfectly clear that if this provision is included … they will abandon [the bill.] …  If we make the effort to add it to this bill, they will walk away. … The result: no equality, no immigration bill, everyone loses. … Much as it pains me, I cannot support this amendment if it will bring down the bill.”

The committee voted 13-5 to move the immigration-reform bill for consideration by the full Senate, which is expected to take up the legislation in June.

LGBT advocates were immediately vocal.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin: “Instead of working to achieve common-sense solutions, Senators Graham, Flake, McCain and Rubio threatened to derail the entire immigration bill to appease a small but vocal group of anti-gay social conservatives that will do anything to stop progress for lesbian and gay couples. We are extremely disappointed that our allies did not put their anti-LGBT colleagues on the spot and force a vote on the measure that remains popular with the American people.”

Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, co-director of GetEqual: “Today it became clear that our so-called ‘friends’ don’t have the courage or the spine to stand up for what’s right, and are content to buy into the false choice that Republicans created — holding a sorely-needed immigration bill hostage in order to cement inequality into law.”