The 884-page immigration bill that was unveiled on Tuesday by the so-called “Gang of Eight” leaves out married lesbian and gay bi-national couples, just as gay immigration activists predicted it would, back in January. Activists are intending to put pressure on Senator Dianne Feinstein to include such couples in the immigration bill.
Feinstein, who is one of the sitting committee members, is a chief sponsor of the repealing of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that banned all gay and lesbian couples from being able to receive federal benefits, including spousal immigration privileges. Feinstein even took the extraordinary step of being responsible for a private bill that prevented lesbian couple Shirley Tan and Jay Mercado from being separated, yet has not as yet signed the Uniting American Families Act, or promised that she will vote for any amendment in committee.
Heather Cronk from the LGBT activist group says that Feinstein is apparently unconvinced by the amendment. “One of the most worrisome things to us is that Dianne Feinstein continues to avoid stating whether she would or would not vote to protect some same-sex binational couples,” Cronk claims. “It’s inconceivable to me that, as the person who found Harvey Milk’s body after his assassination and announced his death to the public, Feinstein would be dragging her feet on this issue.”
President Obama has been calling for the inclusion of married gay and lesbian couples in the US immigration reform, but some fear the exclusion may have been made to win over Republicans to the plan.