An highly-anticipated immigration
proposal unveiled Tuesday has disappointed gay rights groups.
The proposed legislation by the
so-called “gang of eight” senators leaves out LGBT families.
“We are very disappointed it is not
yet included at this point,” Rea Carey, executive director of the
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said of the bill's lack of
provisions for gay couples.
“The bill does not contain the
crucial principles of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), which
would provide a mechanism for U.S. citizens to sponsor their same-sex
foreign partners for citizenship,” she added.
Despite the exclusion, President Barack
Obama, who unveiled an immigration framework in January which did
include protections for binational gay couples, endorsed the
“This bill is clearly a compromise,
and no one will get everything they wanted, including me,” Obama
said. “But it is largely consistent with the principles that I
have repeatedly laid out for comprehensive reform. … I urge the
Senate to quickly move this bill forward and, as I told Senators
[Chuck] Schumer and [John] McCain, I stand willing to do whatever it
takes to make sure that comprehensive immigration reform becomes a
reality as soon as possible.”
Speaking to gay weekly Metro
Weekly, Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration
Equality, a Washington D.C.-based group that lobbies for the rights
of LGBT immigrants, described the proposal as “not comprehensive.”
“The reality is that when the Uniting
American Families Act is not in there and there is no way that a
family that has been living in exile and wants to return home to the
U.S., or a family that is separated and there is no way to be
reunited, or a family that has been here and has been moving from one
visa to another trying to make sure they stay in status and can stay
together and that couple is looking for permanency, there is nothing
in here for those families, and that is not comprehensive,” Tiven
Advocates are now looking for a Senator
on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hear the bill, to
sponsor an amendment to the bill.
“We've always known that our best
shot would be at the committee level,” Fred Sainz, a spokesman for
the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights
advocate, told The
Washington Post. “The goal is to get into the underlying
bill. How that happens is not as important as the fact that it
The issue could become moot in June
after the Supreme Court issues a ruling on a legal challenge to the
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA prevents immigration officials
from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
Without the provision, a gay American could sponsor an immigrant
spouse for citizenship in the same way straight couples can.