Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC
One Practice. One Focus. One Passion: Immigration Law.

Same-sex couples left out of immigration reform for now

The continuing struggle to enact comprehensive reforms of the United States' broken immigration system is continuing to heat up, with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee recently sending a reform bill to the full Senate. But one part of the immigrant community has been left fuming that their concerns were ignored. 

One thing that the bill does not include is a provision for same-sex couples to be treated the same way as heterosexual couples. If the bill eventually becomes law (and that's a big "if"), homosexual American men and women will not be able to sponsor an immigrant partner or spouse for green cards. For advocates who think that all families should be treated equally when it comes to gaining residency, it was a bitter pill to swallow. 

The executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said she was "deeply disappointed" that the provision was not included, but that there was still much to like about the bill in terms of support for gay immigrants. For one, immigrants who are in detention facilities will not be able to be placed in solitary confinement based on their sexual orientation. 

Many of the Republicans who helped construct the carefully crafted compromise bill, which represents the best chance in years of fixing the country's immigration system, had threatened to pull their support if provisions protecting same-sex couples were inserted. 

The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who had been pushing to include the provision, said that he will make another attempt with an amendment when the bill is debated in the full Senate. But it is not likely to pass. 

Remember, this bill is still in its infancy. It still has to pass the entire Senate and then be joined with whatever, if any, legislation the House of Representatives passes. In the meantime, immigrants in California and elsewhere should continue to monitor the latest reports. 

Source: Washington Post, "Immigration reform is a front in the fight for LGBT rights," Jonathan Capehart, May 23, 2013

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