Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has withdrawn an amendment to the immigration reform bill that would have granted gay and lesbians the same rights to sponsor foreign partners that married heterosexuals currently have.
As Immigration Equality explains it on the organization’s FAQ, “under current law, lesbian and gay American citizens and lawful permanent residents are discriminated against and cannot sponsor their spouses or partners for immigration benefits.” Leahy’s amendment would have changed that.
Unfortunately, Republican members of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight”–Marco Rubio, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Jeff Flake–warned that any amendment recognizing the rights of same-sex couples would seriously jeopardize Republican support for the bill.
After Democratic members of the Committee, including Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer, indicated that they would vote against the same-sex equality provision in order to preserve Republican support, Leahy reluctantly pulled the amendment.
So what was so controversial about this amendment? It would not have taken away any rights or conferred any new entitlements. All it would have done was made it a little easier for binational same-sex couples to live together in the U.S.
But–as well all know–treating gays and straights equally is unacceptable to homophobic Republicans and their slack-jawed, knuckle-dragging constituents. And congressional Democrats–who are to courage what Amy Winehouse was to sobriety–are all too willing to compromise their values for the sake of political expedience.
Granting gay and lesbian couples the same rights as straight couples should be a non-issue. Nothing in Leahy’s amendment would have taken away the freedom of conservatives to privately or publicly disapprove of same-sex relationships, nor would the GLBT equality provisions have diminished heterosexual relationships in any way.
The fact that including same-sex equality provisions would have effectively killed immigration reform just goes to show that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals still have quite an uphill battle to face, particularly in the less enlightened areas of the country.
The “Gang of Eight” immigration bill–sans GLBT equality–passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 13 to 5 and now goes to the full senate for a vote, where it will no doubt be further altered to please the Party of Hate.