An immigration reform “framework”
proposed Thursday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and fellow
Democrats includes gay families. The inclusion is likely to anger
social conservatives and major immigration allies.
Included in the “framework” are key
provisions of the Uniting American Families Act. The legislation was
previously offered as a standalone bill by Senator Patrick Leahy of
Vermont in the Senate and Representative Jerrold Nadler in the House.
The measure would allow gay Americans
to sponsor an immigrant partner for citizenship.
“Today's inclusive framework is an
historic step forward for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
binational families,” Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of
Immigration Equality, a group that lobbies on behalf of binational
gay and lesbian couples, said in a statement.
The UAFA has already proven
When Democrats attempted to tuck the
measure inside California Representative Michael Honda's reform
effort last summer, social conservatives cried foul. And the action
drove one major partner to withdraw its support from the House
The United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops, a major ally in securing immigration reform, called
inclusion of the gay provisions “contrary” to its position on
“[Including the gay provisions in the
immigration bill] would erode the institution of marriage and family
by according marriage like benefits to same-sex relationships, a
position that is contrary to the very nature of marriage, which
pre-dates the church and the state,” the bishops wrote in a letter
to Rep. Honda withdrawing their support for his bill.
Speaking to POLITICO, the Reverend
Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference,
another reform ally, called inclusion of the UAFA a “slap in the
face to those of us who have fought for years for immigration
Openly gay Congressman Barney Frank, a
Democrat from Massachusetts, is already on record as disagreeing with
“You got two very tough issues –
the rights of same-sex couples and immigration,” Frank told the
Washington Blade. “You put them in the same bill, and it
becomes impossible. We just don't have the votes for it.”
Tiven said her group would lobby for
inclusion of the UAFA's provisions.
“We will fight to ensure that the
Uniting American Families Act is an indelible part of the immigration
reform bill,” she said.