The immigration reform bill that is currently before the US Senate would offer, amongst other things, more US visas for migrants who work on farms and high tech workers as well as a pathway to citizenship for around 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States.
It would not, however, offer any help for same sex couples when one partner is a US citizen and the other is not. A heterosexual couple is automatically guaranteed a green card for a foreign spouse as well as many of the benefits that come with citizenship, but this is not the case for gay and lesbian couples, although a number of Democrats are hoping that an amendment will be able to change all that.
Steve Ralls from the Immigration Equality group says that all the amendment would do is make sure that homosexual couples have the same rights as heterosexual ones. “As most people understand, when an American citizen marries a spouse from abroad, that spouse is then eligible for a green card here in the United States,” Ralls points out. “For gay and lesbian couples, that option is not available. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government has been unable to confer immigration benefits to the partners of American citizens.”
The Supreme Court is currently looking over the Defense of Marriage Act but those in favor of the amendment are unwilling to bank on the Supreme Court overturning it. That said, support for the amendment is weak, with Senator Marco Rubio noting that conservatives could reject the entire immigration bill if included.