Comprehensive immigration reform – one of the next big domestic policy battlegrounds – will have to deal with the question of whether permanent residents in gay and lesbian couples can sponsor their partners’ visa applications.
Roll Call summarizes:
House proponents of comprehensive immigration reform unveiled an ambitious proposal last week with much fanfare, but lost in the buzz was that their bill isn’t entirely comprehensive: They intentionally left out protections for gay and lesbian immigrants. A bill introduced earlier this year by Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) dealing with family reunification policies for immigrants was completely rolled into the reform package, except for its provisions allowing same-sex partners of permanent residents to qualify for a visa. The decision behind the little-noted change sparked friction between liberals hoping to kick off debate with an all-inclusive bill and Hispanic leaders more focused on keeping religious leaders on board with the plan.
The question is tied up with whether Congress will repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which blocks the Federal government’s recognition of gay marriages – as Obama promised to do. In fact, until it’s resolved, gay marriage will be a factor in every major policy decision. The issue will be the subject of negotiations over the bill, or as the Progressive Puppy puts it, “American citizens with same-sex partners seeking visas are the latest victims of lawmakers willing to use equality as a bargaining chip.”