IL Gay Rights Groups Blast Exclusion Of Same-Sex Couples In Immigration Bill (UPDATED)
Illinois gay rights advocates recently took U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), and
other Democratic leaders who are typically allies to the community, to
task over the immigration reform bill that passed the U.S. Senate
Judiciary Committee Tuesday.
An amendment in the overhaul plan to
recognize same-sex couples was removed from the immigration bill before
the committee voted on the measure. The bill passed in committee by a 13 to 5 vote. Ten Democrats and three Republicans voted for the bill.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, a Democrat from
Vermont, said he took out the provision “with a heavy heart,”
according to the Washington Post.
The approved bill will now have
to go up for a full Senate vote. It is possible Leahy could reintroduce
the same-sex couple amendment later if he so chooses, the Washington Post reported.
“My initial reaction is
anger. Anger that, again, we get scapegoated,” Julio Rodriguez, chair of
the LGBTQ Immigrant Rights Coalition of Chicago, told WBEZ. “That’s
not only a tragedy, but I think it’s a sad statement on the part of our
allies, and the relationships that I think we believed that we had."
in the Democrat-led House reportedly agreed to remove the gay rights protections from the
bill after Senate Republicans said it threatened the passage of an
overall immigration bill.
But LGBT activists have pledged to
continue lobbying for an amendment to the immigration bill that
includes language recognizing same-sex couples. Such an amendment would possibly
prevent the deportation of an immigrant spouse in a civil union or
marriage. It could also pave the way for an undocumented spouse's legal status.
estimated that 267,000 LGBTQ-identified undocumented adult immigrants
are currently living in the United States, according to a study from the Williams Institute, a national think tank at the University of California in Los Angeles.
UPDATE 1 (1:19 p.m.): U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL,5) spoke out about the exclusion of same-sex couples in the immigration reform bill, making this statement:
I am extremely disappointed that my colleagues in the Senate are choosing not to extend the same rights and considerations to same-sex families that we give to any other family in our immigration system. I’m reminded of Grant and Gabe, a Chicago couple who live everyday under a cloud of uncertainty because discriminatory policies like the Defense of Marriage Act do not recognize their same-sex marriage. American entrepreneurs like Grant are forced to choose between building a business in the United States or building a family abroad. Professionals like Gabe are prevented from contributing to our economy because federal regulations treat same-sex relationships differently. America was built on fairness and justice, and I will continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform with these same values.
Quigley also released this video in response to the move, which highlights the couple he referenced in his statement: