Gay groups are fuming after the Senate
Judiciary Committee approved an immigration bill without an amendment
protecting gay and lesbian couples.
On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Patrick
Leahy introduced the amendment in the Democratic-controlled committee
that he chairs. It seeks to allow a gay American to sponsor an
immigrant spouse for citizenship, which is currently not allowed
pursuant to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
But Leahy stood alone in his support.
Within 30 minutes he withdrew the amendment “with a heavy heart.”
“I was shocked – and I suspect he
was too – that not a single member of that committee joined him in
saying, 'These are immigrant families, too. I care about these
families,'” Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration
Equality, told BuzzFeed.
Felipa Sousa-Rodriguez, co-director of
GetEQUAL, reacted angrily to the decision to drop the amendment.
“Today it became clear that our
so-called 'friends' don't have the courage or the spine to stand up
for what's right,” Sousa-Rodriguez said.
For months, Republicans working on the
legislation have warned that such a provision would sink the
Sousa-Rodriguez said Democratic
lawmakers “are content to buy into the false choice that
Republicans created – holding a sorely-needed immigration bill
hostage in order to cement inequality into law.”
Chad Griffin, president of the Human
Rights Campaign (HRC), said of Democrats: “We are extremely
disappointed that our allies did not put their anti-LGBT colleagues
on the spot and force a vote on the measure that remains popular with
the American people.”
Leahy could offer the amendment on the