Amendment To Protect Bi-National Couples Is Back, But Still Dead

In what is a noble, if quixotic, gesture, Sen. Patrick Leahy has introduced an amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill that would offer protections to same-sex bi-national couples. Just three weeks ago, Leahy pulled the same amendment before a Senate Judiciary Committee vote after Republicans threatened to send the bill down in flames if it was included. At the time, Leahy publicly agonized about the move, saying he made it with a “heavy heart.”

“Seeking equal protection under our laws for the LGBT community is the right thing to do,” Leahy said in a statement this time around. “I withheld my anti-discrimination amendment during the Senate Judiciary Committee markup. As the entire Senate turns to debate the immigration bill, the fight for equality must go on.”

Of course, it’s likely to go on symbolically at best. It’s not clear that the amendment will ever come to a vote. Even if it did, Democrats probably can’t muster the super-majority they need to overcome Republican filibuster threats. And even if they could, House Republicans, who aren’t keen on immigration reform in the first place, would just love to use same-sex couples as the excuse to kill reform altogether. In short, given a choice of which has better odds–protections for same-sex bi-national couples and a snowball in July–go with the snowball.

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  • hyhybt

    The problem, most likely, will be gone by the end of the month anyway. Only if it isn’t does legislation need to be considered.

  • DarkZephyr

    @hyhybt: As was pointed out to me elsewhere on this site a few weeks ago, the problem will only go away for those who are in the 12 states where same sex marriage is legal. It will of course be an improvement, but not every gay couple can afford to pack up and move to Washington State or one of the other 11.

  • whatsd

    @DarkZephyr: I wonder if a couple not in one of those 12 states could get married in those states and just fly back home. Will the federal govt recognize marriages in those states ONLY if someone is still living there? My guess is No. Like if I get married in NY where I live, will my partner’s visa be voided if I move across the Hudson to NJ? I’m thinking that will not be the case, but curious to know.

  • tdx3fan

    @whatsd: The federal government will use the rules of the state that you reside in in order to extend benefits if the USSC destroys the section of DOMA preventing them from doing so. If you get married in another state, but your state does not recognize your marriage you are not married by state or federal guidelines.

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