Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy on
Tuesday filed an amendment to the immigration bill which would
protect bi-national gay and lesbian couples.
“Seeking equal protection under our
laws for the LGBT community is the right thing to do,” Leahy, a
Democrat, said in a statement.
Leahy first 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). Under threat from Republicans to end their support for
the entire bill, Leahy, with a “heavy heart,” withdrew the
“I withdrew 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,” Leahy added.
Steve Ralls, a spokesman for
Immigration Equality, which lobbies for the rights of bi-national gay
and lesbian couples, applauded the move.
Leahy “has always been at the
forefront of the work to ensure our immigration system treats
everyone fairly,” Ralls
It was unclear whether Leahy would
offer the amendment on the Senate floor.