Time to deal with gay immigrants

Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has played down concerns that the wide-ranging immigration bill could be defeated if it offers rights to gay immigrants as his committee gets ready to mark up the legislation today.

Leahy told POLITICO, that regarding the issue of gay immigrants: “We’re going to have to face it, and we have to decide when is the best time to face it.”

“You can’t go into a state like mine or – it will be now 11 or 12 states and the District of Columbia – where same sex marriage is legal and say to this couple ‘Okay, we can help you with the immigration matter.’  Turn to another couple equally legally married and say: “Oh we have to discriminate against you,” he said.

The Vermont Democrat was coy as to whether one or two amendments he has suggested in committee would be proposed, or whether he intends to wait until the 844-page bill gets onto the floor of the Senate.  One of those amendments would result in a green card being offered to the foreign-born partner of a gay US citizen, while another would only do so if the pair was a married couple.

Leahy said that he did not intend to prejudge any part of the bill until it was completed, adding that as the chairman of the committee he tried to give everyone a fair chance and that he wanted to see exactly what everyone’s position on the issue will be.