A bipartisan bill called the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) was introduced in the US Senate by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). The intent of the legislation is to address the disparity in the immigration policy of the United States. Current law excludes binational gay couples from obtaining lawful permanent resident status, in the same way that current law allows binational straight married couples a pathway to a green card and citizenship.
The LGBT community was given assurances by Senator Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), that the bill would be attached as an amendment to the immigration reform legislation currently being debated in Congress.
When it was time for the committee to vote whether to release the bill to the full Senate, crybaby Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told his Senate colleagues that if they included UAFA in the legislation, that he would sink the measure.
As Senator Schumer backed out of his commitment to gay binational couples, he said “I’m a politician. That means I have chosen my life’s work in the constraints of the system to accomplish as much good as I can. I accept the tough choices, the painful but necessary imperfection of compromise, which is a part of our system of government.”
As Chris Geidner explains at BuzzFeed, the Democrats on the committee abandoned the LGBT community and the principals of equality with their vote.
A little more than a month ago, marriage equality was the talk of Capitol Hill. Politicians, in Chief Justice John Roberts’ words, were “falling over themselves” to support same-sex couples’ marriage rights.
The current limits to that support were made apparent by 7 p.m. Tuesday, when Leahy withdrew his amendment to the pending immigration bill that would have allowed married same-sex couples to be treated the same as married opposite-sex couples for immigration purposes.
Leahy introduced the bill just a half-hour earlier, but then, as Immigration Equality executive director Rachel Tiven told BuzzFeed, “I was shocked — and I suspect he was too — that not a single member of that committee joined him in saying, ‘These are immigrant families, too. I care about these families.’”
Leahy received expected opposition from Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake to the provision, but the introduction also was opposed by four Democratic senators — Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer and Al Franken.
Senator Schumer tried to explain his rationale for excluding binational gay couples from the bill on his Facebook page. Senator Schumer writes:
The bottom line is that in the political reality in which we operate, the Senate and more broadly, the U.S. Congress, those who disagree with me have more than enough power to prevent passage, either as a stand-alone bill or as part of the immigration bill. And if we added it to S.744 in committee, they would have walked away and the bill would have failed.
They have said it publicly, they have told me privately, and I believe them. The result: no equality, no immigration bill. Everyone loses. What can be accomplished via this comprehensive bill for 11 million people in the shadows, for the security and prosperity of our nation is too vital, too rare to let fail. I know that this provides little comfort. But I want you supporters of this amendment to know, I will be here and ready to work with you to advance the cause of legal equality. This is far from the last battle.
What the Senators are trying to say is --- if you’re a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender American, you’ve been waiting all your life to be treated equally in the eyes of your government, and the law. If you have to wait longer, what difference does it make, you’re used to waiting.
For every law that’s passed that sends a message that tax-paying LGBT citizens are second class, and unworthy of equal treatment under the law, we will see more gay kids being bullied, more gay kids harming themselves, and children and adults being hurt and harmed by discrimination and violence. In my view that’s wrong.
It feels as though the Senators who expressed support for binational couples in the past, are extending their middle finger to the gay community after we’ve given them unequivocal support.
Writing for Reuters, Rachelle Younglai reports:
Some disappointed activists say they are yanking their support for the Democratic Party after Senate Democrats opposed a proposal in an immigration bill that would have allowed citizens to bring their foreign-born, same-sex spouses to the United States.
Jonathan Lewis, a Miami philanthropist who donated more than $35,000 in 2012, has stopped giving and is urging others to do the same until President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats stop breaking promises to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
"Now is the time to stop investing in Democratic cowardice and stand proud by withholding donations until we see our friends' actions and deeds align with their rhetoric," Lewis said in an email to Reuters.
"Pretty words about fairness and equality under the law from the president and Democrats in Congress do not absolve them from their moral duty to act," he said.
I applaud Jonathan Lewis, and thank him for expressing exactly how I feel. We need to make our feelings known in Washington, and demand that we be included in this bill.
Haven’t we all waited long enough? The time for equality is now.
© 2011 - 2013 JIVEINTHE415.COM All Rights Reserved