Shortly after the Senate voted to debate the immigration reform bill written by the so-called Gang Of Eight, late this afternoon Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) again introduced an amendment that would allow LGBT citizens to sponsors their spouses for permanent residency. Politico reports:
“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.” It is unclear whether Leahy’s proposal will get a vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have yet to reach an agreement on amendments. And the political dynamics for Leahy’s amendment are different on the floor. In the committee, the amendment would have required just a simple majority for it to pass. On the floor, it will almost certainly need 60 votes.Republicans had previously threatened to torpedo the entire bill if LGBT spouses were attached. Late last month Democratic members of the Senate reluctantly agreed that such an imperfect bill was better than no immigration reform at all and Leahy withdrew his amendment. It's not yet clear why Leahy is now trying again.
DOMA Project founder Lavi Soloway reacts via press release:
With this bold move, Senator Leahy has carved out an exception to the Defense of Marriage Act for lesbian and gay binational couples that will provide access to existing marriage-related family unification provisions of our immigration law. The Leahy amendment does not actually amend any current provision of our immigration law, but simply removes the extrinsic barrier caused by DOMA that prevents lesbian and gay Americans from filing petitions for their spouses, fiance(e)s and stepchildren. The implication of Senator Leahy's focus on equality is that LGBT families are no different than any other American families comprised of citizens and non-citizens. We must have access to the same immigration law protections that ensure that no family is torn apart. No band aid solution will ever make us equal.