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.