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LGBT Immigration Reform Included in Dems Framework

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Senate Democrats last week released the framework for what they hope will become a bill for comprehensive immigration reform – and it includes a provision to recognize bi-national gay couples.

Of the proposal’s 26 pages, one sentence stood out to gay rights supporters. That sentence says the bill “will eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status.”

The language about permanent partners is taken from a standalone gay rights bill, known as the Uniting American Families Act. Under current U.S. immigration law, U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents can sponsor their heterosexual spouses for immigration purposes. But not their same-sex partners.

Steve Ralls from the group Immigration Equality says this language showing up in last week’s proposal is an encouraging sign – but he says it’ll take a lot of work from supporters of the change to make sure it gets into the final bill.

Ralls: “It’s not a guarantee, it is the first step in what is likely to be a long process. But it will require a lot of people continuing to call congress and continuing to ask for the framework’s inclusive language – to be the bill’s inclusive language as well.”

But gays won’t be the only ones lobbying. Even though the “permanent partners” language is used to avoid a possible conflict with the Defense of Marriage Act – opponents say it’s a back door. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement “we strongly oppose extending marriage-like immigration benefits to same-sex relationships.”

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Written by OutQ News staff

May 3, 2010 at 5:01 PM

Posted in Legislation

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