Will Same Sex Couples be Included in the Immigration Reform Bill?

The Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill cleared the first major hurdle and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Patrick Leahy, wanted to add an amendment that would allow the US citizens to sponsor their same sex foreign spouses for US Green Cards. He did not introduce that amendment in the Committee as the Republicans would not support a bill that includes provisions for same sex couples.

Senator Rubio’s spokesman Alex Burgos stated that the Senate immigration bill will not survive, if the same sex couple measure is adopted. He also stated that the bill will not pass, as the Republicans are against same sex marriages. Same sex marriages are not recognized by the Federal government due to the Defense of Marriage Act. According to this Act, marriage is a union between a man and a woman and a US citizen cannot petition for his foreign born partner, even if their states recognize same sex marriages. That is the reason why the Federal government does not offer immigration benefits to same sex couples.

Though the bill does not include provisions for same sex couples, gay rights activists say that the there are few other aspects in the bill that would protect the same sex couples. According to the Republicans in the bipartisan Gang of Eight, the coalition that crafted the immigration reform bill would have broken apart if the committee recognized same sex marriages. Reports state that there are more than 24,000 bi-national same sex couples living in the United States. More than half of these couples are undocumented and if the bill included provisions for same sex couples, most of them would be benefited. Undocumented immigrants could apply for legal status and the immediate relatives of Green Card holders would not be subject to annual quotas, if the immigration reform legislation is passed. But the bill has left out the same sex couples. Nevertheless, Senator Leahy might re-introduce his amendment on the Senate floor.