Sen. Harry Reid's Immigration Proposal Includes Gay Families
Included in the “framework” are key provisions of the Uniting American Families Act. The legislation was previously offered as a standalone bill by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont in the Senate and Representative Jerrold Nadler in the House.
The measure would allow gay Americans to sponsor an immigrant partner for citizenship.
“Today's inclusive framework is an historic step forward for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender binational families,” Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, a group that lobbies on behalf of binational gay and lesbian couples, said in a statement.
The UAFA has already proven controversial.
When Democrats attempted to tuck the measure inside California Representative Michael Honda's reform effort last summer, social conservatives cried foul. And the action drove one major partner to withdraw its support from the House version.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, a major ally in securing immigration reform, called inclusion of the gay provisions “contrary” to its position on marriage.
“[Including the gay provisions in the immigration bill] would erode the institution of marriage and family by according marriage like benefits to same-sex relationships, a position that is contrary to the very nature of marriage, which pre-dates the church and the state,” the bishops wrote in a letter to Rep. Honda withdrawing their support for his bill.
Speaking to POLITICO, the Reverend Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference, another reform ally, called inclusion of the UAFA a “slap in the face to those of us who have fought for years for immigration reform.”
Openly gay Congressman Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts, is already on record as disagreeing with the strategy.
“You got two very tough issues – the rights of same-sex couples and immigration,” Frank told the Washington Blade. “You put them in the same bill, and it becomes impossible. We just don't have the votes for it.”
Tiven said her group would lobby for inclusion of the UAFA's provisions.
“We will fight to ensure that the Uniting American Families Act is an indelible part of the immigration reform bill,” she said.