GOP Leaders Threaten to Sink Immigration Reform If Gay Couples Are Included

Jim Burroway

May 2nd, 2013

In their bid to pick up Hispanic voters in the upcoming mid-term elections, GOP leaders have decided that passing immigration reform would help. Immigration reform has also been a goal of Democratic legislators as well. And so earlier this month, a bipartisan group known as the “Gang of Eight” came up with an immigration reform proposal which, presumably, both sides could support. Except large constituencies on both sides find that they won’t support it. The nativist, xenophobic wing of the GOP would rather see the whole issue die, and it would only be icing on their cake if they could blame immigration reform’s death on the Democrats. And since the immigration proposal as it stands excludes gay couples, Democrats find themselves at odds with a key constituency:

Gay advocates were sharply disappointed to find that same-sex couples were excluded from the legislation, since the Democrats who wrote it included two of their most consistent champions, Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the second highest-ranking Senate Democrat. Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the Democrat who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, where the bill is under consideration, has offered, since as far back as 2003, a separate measure that would allow immigrants in long-term same-sex relationships to obtain residency with a green card.

But in the lengthy closed-door negotiations that produced the overhaul proposal, the four Republicans in the bipartisan group made it clear early on that they did not want to include such a hot-button issue in a bill that would be a challenge to sell to their party even without it, according to Senate staff members. The Republicans are Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jeff Flake and John McCain of Arizona, and Marco Rubio of Florida.

…”There’s a reason this language wasn’t included in the Gang of Eight’s bill: It’s a deal-breaker for most Republicans,” Senator Flake said. “Finding consensus on immigration legislation is tough enough without opening the bill up to social issues.”

Sen. Mark Rubio (R-FL), who is being talked up as a possible Presidential contender in 2016, told a conservative talk radio host, “”If that issue is injected into this bill, this bill will fail. It will not have the support. It will not have my support.” Jonathan Rauch reacts:

Really? Republicans will deep-six the entire effort, and demolish themselves with Latino voters and business interests and young people in order to prevent gay people from having someone to take care of them?

Even to write those words is to wonder whether they can possibly be true. Surely Republicans know that, according to many polls, support for same-sex marriage has tipped above the majority level and is rising. Perhaps some also know that, according to a recent Huffington Post poll, partner immigration enjoys solid 7-percentage-point support. They certainly know that, from a political point of view, the perception among younger voters that a pro-Republican vote is an anti-gay vote is toxic to the GOP brand. …and Republicans themselves are split down the middle on the more general question of whether “same sex couples should have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples.”

Even among Republicans, in other words, the constituency for policies disadvantaging gay and lesbian couples is withering. And this is where Senate Republicans want to make their stand?


May 2nd, 2013

Sad that total losers like the Tsarnaevs can bring their entire families here for no apparent reason but American citizens can’t even sponsor the person they love.

Kevin F.

May 2nd, 2013

The GOP doesn’t need to care about what the majority of Americans think. The majority of Americans don’t vote. The GOP only needs to worry about the minority of voters who vote for them, and hope that minority of voters is bigger than the Dem’s minority.


May 2nd, 2013

Anyone who thinks Republicans have any empathy or compassion and care about anything but votes is highly delusional.


May 2nd, 2013

Although I am appalled that Senator Graham – of all people – is pulling this cr*p, I have to wonder, won’t this soon (potentially) be a moot point? If/when DOMA is overturned, the feds will have to recognize same-sex marriages in states that allow them, so binational couples would have a route to staying together, or am I missing something?


May 2nd, 2013

If DOMA is gone the state of residency doesn’t play a role. For immigration purposes, they only check it a marriage was valid where it was contracted.


May 2nd, 2013

The thing is, the problem as it relates specifically to same-sex couples isn’t immigration law, but marriage law. Trying to fix it by changing immigration law is good in the sense that it’s quicker, but the cost is not only the gamble in getting immigration reform passed at all, but also in having a bigger mess than necessary once marriage is legal.


May 2nd, 2013

Just another reminder that in spite of a bright point here and there the VAST majority of the Republican Party is still rabidly anti-gay and out of touch with a 21st century society.


May 2nd, 2013

UAFA has been proposed in every session of Congress since the year 2000. I’ve long pointed to gay immigration as the arcehtypal example of the anti-gay politics of the Republican Party.

They hate gays so much that they’d rather see immigration reform fail altogether than give a tablescrap to foreign gays and their would-be spouses.


May 2nd, 2013

Make them sign a paper saying if they turn Republican they will be deported!

Priya Lynn

May 2nd, 2013

Tampazeke said “Just another reminder that in spite of a bright point here and there the VAST majority of the Republican Party is still rabidly anti-gay and out of touch with a 21st century society.”.

Yes, this kind of brought me out of my happy delusion that the Republican party had come along significantly.


May 2nd, 2013

I don’t know if the proposal allowing same sex couples to sponsor their partners is gender specific or gender neutral. If it’s neutral let the bill come to the floor of the House or Senate with out the provision and then put forth and amendment and let the Repugs vote it down or filibuster it.

If the proposal is gender specific it will engender court challenges because it will treat heterosexuals differently violating the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.


May 2nd, 2013

Oh, if only some billionaire GOP backers who support equality and want immigrate labors would only appear and threaten to withhold their backing.

Richard Rush

May 2nd, 2013

So, how did we get here?

In a certain sense the GOP redefined marriage several decades ago when they realized they needed to find a spouse voting bloc that was gullible enough and hateful enough to respond “favorably” to demagoguery and vote against their own self-interest. The Greedy Ol’ Peckerheads discovered the God Obsessed Pinheads, fell in love, and were joined in holy matrimony which can only be described as a match made in heaven. Their married nickname became the Godly Opulence Party. But unbeknownst to the Pinheads, the Peckerheads never intended for the marriage to be an equal partnership. The Peckerheads just assumed they would always be the head of the household, but the Pinheads had no intention of remaining submissive, and thus their passions, interests, and desires have come to dominate the GOP. While some people wonder if there will be a divorce, it seems unlikely because their unique symbiotic relationship is unlikely to ever be duplicated, and despite some bickering, they desperately rely on each other. So, the Godly Opulence Party is probably here to stay.

Doug Johnson

May 3rd, 2013

I believe that if DOMA is invalidated, they can’t pass an immigration law that discriminates against validly married gay couples. So I expect they will delay action on this until the SCOTUS ruling.

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