Senate Democrats Flinch Once Again At GOP Threats, This Time On Immigration Reform

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Democrats profess they love us, but when it comes to legislation they are willing to hang us out to dry.

Today’s case in point: immigration reform. The original proposal floated by the Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Eight conspicuously left same-sex bi-national couples out of the legislation.  Since then, advocates have been pushing to get language into the bill that would protect same-sex couples where one partner is not a U.S. citizen. But squeamish Democrats are dragging their heels, afraid that protecting us will sink the bill entirely.

“Any amendment which might sink the immigration bill, I would worry about,” Sen. Carl Levin (D.-Mich.) told the Associated Press. Levin didn’t say whether he considered LGBT protections an iceberg or not.

Republicans are doing their best to play up the threat, hoping that Democrats will do their dirty work for them. “Opponents will be proposing amendments that, if passed, could collapse this very fragile coalition that we’ve been able to achieve,” said  Sen. John McCain (R.-AZ), the failed presidential candidate and all-around angry old man.

The political reality is that Republicans are split on immigration reform, and Democrats can’t push it through on their own. Senate Democrats may want to include us in the bill, but they also know that whatever they produce has to make it through the House, where conservative Republicans are the majority and are looking for a reason to kill reform.

So, to recap: prospects for immigration reform with protections for LGBT couples look wobbly, ENDA probably isn’t going anywhere, and an anti-bullying bill has pretty low chances too. This bleak situation is the inevitable result of a Congress where Republicans, particularly in the House, are calling the shots. Any gains we make this year are going to be in spite of Congress, not because of it.