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Gay Couples Excluded from Immigration Bill Markup

Jim Burroway

May 22nd, 2013

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, withdrew his proposed amendment yesterday to the comprehensive immigration bill which would have allowed gay Americans to sponsor their foreign partners, much as heterosexual Americans can sponsor their spouses. In the original version of the bill hammered out by a bi-partisan “gang of eight,” gay couples were excluded. Leahy offered his amendment saying:

“In the immigration context, if you’re an American and fall in love will someone of the same sex from a different country and you get married legally, your spouse will not be treated like any other immigrant spouse would be by your federal government,” Leahy said. “My amendments would change that. I don’t want to be the senator who asks Americans to choose between the love of their life and the love of their country.”

Other senators, however, were more than happy to force that choice. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), said:

“If you redefine marriage for immigration purposes [by the amendment], the bill would fall apart because the coalition would fall apart,” Graham said. “It would be a bridge too far.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein cited Graham’s comments, then, saying of Leahy’s amendment, “I think this sounds like the fairest approach, but here’s the problem … we know this is going to blow the agreement apart. I don’t want to blow this bill apart.”

She cited the fact that the Supreme Court could strike down the Defense of Marriage Act provision that prevents same-sex couples from having equal immigration rights in coming months. She also noted the a bill she is sponsoring to repeal DOMA is holding in the Senate, concluding, “I would just implore to hold up on this amendment at this time.”

Sen. Chuch Schumer (D-NY) described his efforts to convince Republicans to accept the provision:

Schumer, a member of the “Gang of Eight,” said he tried to persuade other senators to support the idea and believes current law is “rank discrimination,” but can’t bring himself to support the amendments because of Republican opposition.

“If we make the effort to add it to this bill, they will walk away,” Schumer said. “They’ve said it publicly, they’ve told me privately — I believe them. The result: no equality, no immigration bill. Everyone loses.”

Leahey withdrew the amendment about a half-hour later. He may propose the amendment again when the legislation reaches the Senate floor.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act sometime before the end of June. Section 3 prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed by those states that allow them.

Comments

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Ben in Oakland
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Ah, leadership!!!!!!!!

I sure wish we had some.

Congress is so feckless it just leaves us completely fecked.

Timothy Kincaid
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Leahy made the only choice he had to make so I can’t fault him.

Jack
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Will be moot point if Supreme Court strikes down federal sections of DOMA

Ben In Oakland
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

I agree, timothy. Except that they(leahy excepted) are always willing to tell us just wait until they get around to us, that our concerns are not so important.

Timothy Kincaid
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

I liked Leahy’s bill because it was not, as some news reports put it, about “same sex couples” but was an attempt to apply the law evenly to legally married spouses.

But I do agree with those who say that this is the wrong venue. I don’t like band-aid approaches and this was most definitely one.

The real issue is DOMA, without which this would be a moot point. And I think that’s where Leahy and the others should make the fight.

If it were not:

1. DOMA is decided next month
2. There are enough votes in the Senate to overturn DOMA – though the House will be a tougher problem.

I might be more discouraged by its removal. If this were the only possible vehicle for change, I might be more on board with insisting for inclusion.

But I think DOMA will be overturned – either by the courts or by the legislature – and that is where it should be, not as a special provision to an immigration bill.

Andrew
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

I appreciate that Leahy brought the amendment to the floor, but it may well be just pandering to us – after all, Jack is right – if the federal sections of DOMA are struck, then it’s no longer relevant. And here’s the fun part – if something specific had been written into this law, and then the circumstances (because DOMA is struck) change, we might have unintended consequences (legacy laws that only apply to gays) because of this amendment.

It is well and truly better to be in the same pot as everyone else (marriage equality) – then you can’t be written or written out of this or that legislation, and you don’t have separate but equal structures embedded in a multitude of laws going forward.

Mark F.
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

If SCOTUS does not act, I think they are still about 40 votes short of repealing DOMA in the House.

Keppler
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

I’ve heard this DOMA argument over and over: if DOMA is overturned, then same-sex couples will have the right to sponsor their partners. But, what if the state in which the couple resides doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage? Yes, that couple could visit a state that does and get married there, but there’s no precedent that I’m aware of for how that couple would then be treated by the federal government. And, if there’s no precedent, you can bet that NOM and its ilk will do its best to obstruct federal recognition.

This was the beauty of inclusion in the immigration bill: it didn’t depend on DOMA for federal recognition.

DN
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

UAFA has been brought up as standalone legislation in every session of Congress since the year 2000, and it is Republicans who kill it every time.

This is not new, and it shouldn’t be news that Republicans aren’t just against gay marriage, but they’re against gay immigration, too.

So when some conservative tells you that we can address each of the 1,138 rights withheld from gay taxpayers, you can point to UAFA and ask why this legislation has gone nowhere for 13 years. It’s obvious that their problem isn’t with gay marriage, but with gays altogether.

I’m a legal gay immigrant to the U.S. and I pay my taxes. I want my effing rights.

customartist
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Politicians, Republican OR Democratic, who vote for and approve this legislation, CANNOT then turn around and try to say to the gay community that they “are not a participant in perpetuating homophobia in 2013″.

They cannot.

sunshine.by
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Is there a copy of the bill anywhere I can read it? As a person directly affected by the proposed bill I have sleepless nights and probably reading through a hateful 900+ page document will help me to sleep?

sunshine.by
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

And yes, as an after-thought: I will not be voting for the croocs no more. Even if independents like Libertarians will not win, those double-faced liers will have none of my vote. Like ever.

customartist
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

“Libertarians” have NEVER wanted to extend liberty to gays.

Timothy Kincaid
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

customartist, you must know different libertarians than the ones I know. Unless I’m mistaken, the Libertarian Party beat the Democratic Party to marriage equality.

Timothy Kincaid
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

And for those upset, it may be helpful to recall that the Administration has declared deporting same sex couples so low on the priority list that they are effectively no longer likely.

Chris McCoy
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid said:

customartist, you must know different libertarians than the ones I know.

I believe part of the problem is many members of the Republican party who are anti-gay and anti-marriage-equality, are on record as identifying themselves as Libertarians, or having Libertarian leanings. The Libertarian Party has made no effort to publicly call out these Republicans for misrepresenting the Libertarian Party, and highlighting the differences between the Republican and Libertarian Platforms.

While Rand Paul is currently part of the Republican Caucus, he has on many occasions identified himself as a Libertarian. He is also on record as opposing Marriage Equality. He opposes a Federal Ban on Same-sex Marriage (because he opposes Federal recognition of all marriages), but supports a State-by-State ban on Same-sex Marriage.

Ron Paul, Rand’s father, also a self-identified Libertarian, espouses the same position as his son.

When you say “Libertarian” to most Americans, they think “Tea Party,” or “Ron Paul” and not “David Nolan,” “Bob Barr,” or Gary Johnson”.

This is completely a failure in messaging and PR by the Libertarian Party to reach out to the LGBT community.

Timothy Kincaid
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Chris,

yes, there are Libertarians (big L) and libertarians (small l). Just as we live in a republic and our form of government is democratic.

I don’t think most Americans associate the Tea Party crowd with libertarian Republicans – the Tea Party folk are pretty diverse, but they seem mostly to be about taxes. But I don’t know most Americans, so your guess is as good as mine as to what they think.

But despite Rand Paul and others who claim that mantle, when I hear a non-politician call themselves a libertarian Republican, it usually means that they do support equality.

DN
May 24th, 2013 | LINK

Timothy,

I have to point out that what you’re saying about UAFA is exactly what we were told about DOMA and DADT.

“Wait your turn.”

“There are more important issues to deal with.”

“Politicians can work on gay rights once it’s no longer political poison to do so.”

It was wrong then and it’s wrong now. I have earned my way into the United States, thirteen (!) years of having UAFA languish in committee is ridiculous.

I’ve tried to look up the year that Canada allowed gay immigration, but I know for an absolute fact that it was before gay marriage. The notion that gay bi-national couples should just be patient and wait is offensive and disgusting.

DN
May 24th, 2013 | LINK

“And for those upset, it may be helpful to recall that the Administration has declared deporting same sex couples so low on the priority list that they are effectively no longer likely.”

You are right about this, and there’s also the fact that green card interviews for same sex couples are not resulting in deportations. So, um, sure that’s a victory.

But I hope you realize that the immigrants without a green card are banned from all employment, so, yeah, sure they can live in the United States…

But they are more unemployable than criminals.

Timothy Kincaid
May 24th, 2013 | LINK

DN,

I have to point out that what you’re saying about what I’m saying is purely imaginary. I’ve not said or intimated any of the nonsense you attributed to me.

So, kindly don’t do so. And in return, I’ll not claim that you are saying absurd things.

Fair?

Timothy Kincaid
May 24th, 2013 | LINK

“But I hope you realize that the immigrants without a green card are banned from all employment, so, yeah, sure they can live in the United States…

But they are more unemployable than criminals.”

Yes, that’s a good point. I certainly hope that my confidence in SCOTUS overturning DOMA3 next month is not misplaced.

DN
May 25th, 2013 | LINK

Timothy,

I didn’t say *you* said that about DOMA or about DADT. I said, “I have to point out that what you’re saying about UAFA is exactly what we were told about DOMA and DADT.”

I don’t know when you started your blog, but I doubt it was in the late 90s, so to suggest that I was saying that you said those words at the time is sophistry of the highest order.

But you *did* intimate that kind of thinking:

“I don’t like band-aid approaches and this was most definitely one.”

UAFA is not a band-aid approach. It is a solution for people who have zero (and I mean *zero* legal recourse to immigration in the U.S. for the mere reason that they are gay).

Before 2005, Canada enacted a similar “band-aid approach” and helped thousands of bi-national couples – at a time when gay marriage was illegal at the provincial and federal levels, as I pointed out.

But I’m glad you at least accepted the fact gay immigrants who are denied access to a green card are denied access to employment. I don’t blame you for not realizing that, because you don’t live this reality, and I’ve come to expect that of this blog. But at least you thought about it at that point and learned.

I agree that if DOMA section 3 is overturned, that likely will mean that gay spousal green cards can happen. But nobody can deny that UAFA has been introduced in every. single. session. of congress since the year 2000, and republicans have killed it every. single. time.

Timothy Kincaid
May 26th, 2013 | LINK

DN,

I did not say or intimate any of the various positions you assigned to me on ANY bill, DOMA or otherwise.

As far as straw men go, these were particularly absurd. Sort of along the lines of claiming that your position is “gay people should be first in line for immigration” or “All gay couples irrespective of the length or nature of their relationship should be treated for immigration purposes as though they are married.”

Sure it’s fun to argue against imaginary positions, but it’s not particularly useful.

Timothy Kincaid
May 26th, 2013 | LINK

And, DN, so that you may think and learn, in politics a “band-aid solution” is one that treats a symptom instead of the problem.

Gay people being discriminated against in immigration is not the problem here. It’s the symptom of a bigger problem: the federal government refusing to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. The immigration situation is but one of hundreds of symptoms of this problem.

Sometimes the best you can do is use the band-aid approach. When President Obama informed hospitals that they cannot get Medicare funds unless they allowed same-sex couple visitation, it was a band-aid; but the symptom was so egregious and remedying the problem was so far in the distance that it was a necessary band-aid.

When the President declared that same-sex couple deportations were on the bottom of the list, it to was a band-aid. Also a necessary one.

But it now looks as though we can solve the problem; we are within a hair’s-breadth of seeing the end of DOMA3. So we don’t need a band-aid solution that fixes only one little aspect of federal discrimination; we can be rid of it all.

Timothy Kincaid
May 26th, 2013 | LINK

And one last thing about “living in reality” when it comes to this subject … I live in Los Angeles. In Historic Filipinotown, an ethnic mix comprised almost entirely of Hispanic, Asian and other first or second generation Americans.

So whatever reality you imagine that I live in, I suspect that it has very little in common with my real reality.

Robert
May 26th, 2013 | LINK

Any immigration Bill that does not adress ALL immigrants, be they gay or straight, is a bad immigration bill. NOT addressing the LGBT issue in immigration just furthers the second class status we still have. And treating most gay relationships as the equivillant of heterosexual married relationships is not far out of bounds. Straight people don’t have to justify the length of their relationships, why should gay people? And DOMA, regardless of whether it is overturned or not, will only help those Gays that were allowed to legally marry. It would not affect those in DP or CU relationships, just as it would not affect heterosexuals in those same types of relationships. Pretending that dealing with immigration issues in an immigration bill is a band aide solution is disengenous. It’s a freaking immigration bill and if it’s supposed to be comprehensive, as claimed, then it should address the issues of ALL peple, not just heerosexuals.

DN
May 30th, 2013 | LINK

Jesus Christ…

I didn’t say you didn’t live “in reality” (talk about hypocrisy on twisting words). I said you don’t “live this reality,” which in the context of my sentence obviously meant the reality of what it’s like to be an immigrant. You accuse me of saying attributing words to you that you didn’t say but you can’t handle a simple turn of phrase? Wow, Timothy. Just wow.

My point there was clear enough to begin with, but you seem to be soliciting a clarification. Here goes. It’s natural for people to have a more comprehensive understanding of the issues that directly affect their lives. People who are aerospace engineers tend to know more about the aerospace engineering than people who aren’t – people who play videogames are more likely to know about E3 than those who don’t – and people who are immigrants tend to know more about the immigration process than those who don’t need to think about it.

If you wanted, I could very-well describe the nuts and bolts of what was involved in obtaining my visas, or the multi-year process that was getting my green card. I sincerely doubt that you know what goes into getting one. And this was my point – your lack of knowledge on this topic isn’t due to any failing on your part, but due to the fact that until you spend seven years going through it, you’re just not going to know it as well as us.

When I meet other green card applicants, asking high-context questions, such as, “are you portable, yet?” have specific, known meaning. Without googling it, do you know what that question means? Do you know how many H1-B renewals you can do? Do you know that you can’t change jobs when you’re on an H1-B? That’s what I meant about “living the reality” of being an immigrant.

As to the band-aid solution topic, maybe we should define our terms. What you describe as a band-aid solution, I would call incremental politics. I agree completely by the way that this issue is, indeed, a symptom of the problem of DOMA. But there’s nothing wrong with saying “X is a symptom of a larger problem, so let’s try to fix X *as well as* work on the larger problem.

If my couch caught fire because my boyfriend was playing with matches, the first thing I do isn’t to fix the boyfriend, it’s put out the fire before the house burns down. Yes, it’s addressing the symptom, and yes, it’s incremental, but it’s pretty effing important.

As for this section:

“As far as straw men go, these were particularly absurd. Sort of along the lines of claiming that your position is “gay people should be first in line for immigration” or “All gay couples irrespective of the length or nature of their relationship should be treated for immigration purposes as though they are married.””

I have no idea what you’re saying. I guess you’re mocking me by making mock straw man arguments about things I didn’t say? That’s a rhetorical device I’ve never seen. Is it Strawman-squared? Are you trying to goad me into not defending those positions? I enjoyed the laugh this morning – thank you for that.

And lastly, I also hope my faith that DOMA section 3 will be struck down in June isn’t misplaced. But twice now, I have pointed out that this legislation has been killed by Republicans in every single session of congress since the turn of the century. While I agree that it’s kind of Obama to deprioritize gay deportations, that says nothing to the roughly ten years of the government saying “we’re not going to give gay couples the same treatment as heterosexuals, and we’re going to deport them at the normal priority.”

Timothy Kincaid
May 30th, 2013 | LINK

DN

You insist that the correct vehicle for overturning anti-gay discrimination in immigration is this immigration reform bill. I’m not opposed to the bill including this change, but I think it better to go through the reversal of DOMA3 next month by SCOTUS. Otherwise we are in agreement on the issue (though, of course, we are not in agreement about your absurd list of insults).

I’ll just leave it at that.

Robert
May 30th, 2013 | LINK

Timothy,

What happens if Doma ISN’T overturned? Then the immigration bill is over and done with and it won’t come up again for another 20 years. That’s a “punt” in my opinion. And you really do need to learn how to accept responsibility for your own rhetoric. You make up strawman arguments and twist people’s words to mean other than what they actually stated. And then you blame them for what you pretend they are saying. I’m sure you read the article recently on Politico about Republicans and conservatives lying at greater rates than Democrats/Liberals. It sure rings true when you write.

Timothy Kincaid
May 30th, 2013 | LINK

Robert,

My thinking is this: on the unlikely event that SCOTUS does not overturn DOMA3, there are enough votes in the Senate to overturn that bill. There may even be enough votes in the House if the ‘states rights’ Republicans are smart enough to recognize that this is a position that they can sell to the public (each state chooses for themselves) and that if they don’t it will hurt them even more in the future. But, truthfully, I’m not overly hopeful of that.

But I think that the Senate can introduce the bill and start the conversation. Ultimately, it’s not a conversation that anti-gays can win in the public. The long term effect is in our favor. “Gays should pay higher taxes” doesn’t sell well to anyone.

But if SCOTUS and Congress both fail to reverse DOMA3, then the battle continues.

But here’s the point: we are not at a decision between a good immigration bill and a better immigration bill. The inclusive bill is off the table.

If we could have this bill with the gay couples protected in it, we would. The sponsors looked at the votes and saw that we simply could not sell the bill with gay couples included; too many legislators on both sides of the aisle saw it as a backdoor vote on marriage. I think they are wrong (it was included because it addressed a specific issue) but that’s just where we are.

Our choice today is between any immigration bill or none at all.

Personally, I think it is better to wait a month. I think it’s a more complete solution and killing DOMA3 is better than killing one symptom of DOMA3. But either way, if I’m right or wrong about SCOTUS, we don’t have a choice.

As for the rest of your ranting insults, my eyes just glaze over when you start that stuff. But I do wonder, Robert, don’t you ever tire of being a hater?

Robert
May 30th, 2013 | LINK

I’m not a hater, Timothy, and you know it. I call you out and others when their own rhetoric belies their stated views. You always yse strawman arguments, pretending others say what they don’t so you can score points, so do a few others. demanding facts and links only to turn around and claim that facts and links are not enough. If you were honest you’d recognize this fact in yourself. I’m not the only one who calls you out on these diengenious talking points you develop.

Maybe if every once in a while you acknowledged your errors, it would not seem that I was a hater. When I have made mistakes on this site, I apologize. YOU, on the other hand do not. And then you claim it’s the other person who is doing the hating.

It’s sad that a person with an intellect as good as yours is dishonest about his own errors while calling everyone else to task for strawmen YOU invent. It’s a tactic of the right and always has been.

I like the topics you bring up, they are interesting and you often have good points, unfortunately the lies you say about others writings is your biggest fault.

Robert
May 30th, 2013 | LINK

Sorry about the spelling, my coffee hasn’t kicked in yet.

Timothy Kincaid
May 30th, 2013 | LINK

I’m having my first cup now.

You may wish to consider that too often what you consider to be “calling out” can come across as nothing more that hurling insults and making accusations.

Perhaps if it were more along the lines of “in situation X, you misconstrued person Y’s position” rather than just claiming without context that I’m a liar, it would sound more like correction and less like invective.

Timothy Kincaid
May 30th, 2013 | LINK

And, btw, no I never intentionally use strawmen arguments. And I strive to be honest in my personal life, my professional life, and in my writing.

Timothy Kincaid
May 30th, 2013 | LINK

DN

Let me address one more item:

I didn’t say you didn’t live “in reality” (talk about hypocrisy on twisting words). I said you don’t “live this reality,” which in the context of my sentence obviously meant the reality of what it’s like to be an immigrant. You accuse me of saying attributing words to you that you didn’t say but you can’t handle a simple turn of phrase? Wow, Timothy. Just wow.

Yes, I incorrectly used “in reality” instead of “this reality”. And no, I’m not an immigrant and don’t share your experiences. I thought you meant that I’m removed from people who are immigrants – either with papers or without – off in some reality in which it is never an issue. And that is not the case.

So I apologize for misunderstanding your point and using an incorrect quotation.

However, I do hope that at some point you’ll realize that “what [I'm] saying about UAFA” is not:

“Wait your turn.”

“There are more important issues to deal with.”

“Politicians can work on gay rights once it’s no longer political poison to do so.”

Robert
May 30th, 2013 | LINK

Timothy, perhaps you are correct in the context of my “tone”, but sometimes, as intelligent individuals, we must look beyond the “tone” and look to the actual words and message being presented. We do not all communicate in the same manner, and as such, misunderstandings are bound to happen. I believe that I do give examples of when people use false arguments or misconstrue others words, or when they demand links and proof of things then turn around and diminish the links and prof of what they asked for. It was obvious, I thought, in this conversation what strawman arguments you were using, as the person to whom you used them had just given a detailed account, which you immedialtely denied, but have now acknowledged.

You, as the author of these pieces SHOULD be held to a higher standard, as you are the author. When you use disengenious arguments about things no one implied, or you misconstrue what others write, it damages your integrity as writer. When you volunteer your views and then take such tactics as strawmen, it diminishes what you have to offer. As I have REPEATEDLY stated, I enjoy the articles and discussions that you bring to this site, I just think that in your responses you often misinterpret (seemingly on purpose) and twist what people say. Sometimes the “political” aspects overbear the actual conversation at hand, and it seem you have a “win at all costs” attitude, even when it means you have to accuse people of saying things that they did not say.

On this site I have been forced to apologize to you for claiming that you said something that you didn’t, unfortunately that standard more often than not seems to be one held for only the commenters, and not the authors. I call you out because you call me out, unfortunately I don’t have the right to moderate and hold your comments when they do the same thing you get angry at others for doing.

Keep bringing up the good and interesting issues, but maybe you (and I) need to step back and see if what we respond with is accurate and honest. Glad to see you finally acknowledge that you misunterpreted DN’s comments. It’s a start.

Timothy Kincaid
May 30th, 2013 | LINK

Robert I am not the author of this post.

I did not misstate DN’s arguments (though I did misunderstand one of his turns of phrase). Misunderstand a turn of phrase (I don’t use the term ‘live this reality’ and misread it to mean something else) is not a straw man tactic.

Not everything is a partisan tactical scrimmage for me. But you win, I give up.

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