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Take Action: Senators Propose Bi-Partisan Immigration Reform, Minus Gay Couples

Take Action: Senators Propose Bi-Partisan Immigration Reform, Minus Gay Couples

by Karen Ocamb on January 28, 2013

When Republican strategist Karl Rove says the proposal made today by four Democratic and four Republican Senators made today is a “huge step forward” and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas calls the plan “surprisingly good” – something’s up. However, as a slew of LGBT groups pointed out (see below), the proposed immigration reform leaves out bi-national couples prohibited from getting green cards for their foreign-born spouses because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. The Washington Blade took an extensive look at what President Obama might propose on Tuesday:

There are signs that President Obama will include relief for bi-national same-sex couples as part of his proposals for comprehensive immigration reform, but whether the Senate will agree to such language as part of bipartisan compromise legislation remains an open question.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, declined to preview whether Obama will include a provision for bi-national same-sex couples as part of his highly anticipated proposal for immigration reform, but maintained the president is committed to bi-national same-sex couples.

“The president has made it clear on a number of occasions that comprehensive immigration reform is a key priority, including in major speeches over the last four years,” Inouye said. “While I’m not going to preview the president’s proposal, he has long believed that Americans with same-sex partners from other countries should not be faced with the painful choice between staying with the person they love or staying in the country they love, and he welcomes changes that would help keep families together.”

Although not a commitment, that response is the strongest on-the-record statement yet from a White House official on Obama’s support for bi-national couples and whether he’ll seek language to include them as part of his immigration reform plan.

 SOME LGBT GROUPS ISSUED A JOINT STATEMENT ABOUT THE PROPOSAL:

National lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights organizations, including the National Center for Transgender Equality,  today released a joint statement reiterating the call for a comprehensive immigration policy that ensures fair treatment of LGBT people and families under immigration law. It comes as a bipartisan group of U.S. senators today released a set of principles for comprehensive immigration reform, and as President Obama prepares to announce his own immigration plans tomorrow.

The full text of the LGBT groups’ joint statement is below:

“We are fully committed to and deeply understand the need for this nation to adopt a humane and effective comprehensive immigration policy that ensures fair and just treatment for all those currently impacted by our failed immigration policy.

Any legislation must include the ability of couples in same-sex relationships to sponsor their spouse or permanent-partner in the same way opposite-sex couples have long been able to under current immigration law.

We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those striving for and dreaming of a nation that embraces all who come here seeking a better life. We look forward to working with Congress, the White House and every community harmed by our broken immigration system to finally achieve the comprehensive reforms we all so desperately need.”

Signatories: National Center for Lesbian Rights Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality Action Fund, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

MEANWHILE, IMMIGRATION EQUALITY IS ASKING FOR YOUR HELP:

Today’s framework is a starting point, but not yet a bill. Will you make 3 phone calls today to insist that our families be part of any immigration reform bill in Congress?

First, call the White House. Tomorrow, President Obama will unveil his own plan for immigration reform during a speech in Las Vegas. Earlier this week, the White House issued its strongest statement yet in support of our families. Now, we need to ensure the President doesn’t forget us tomorrow.

Call the White House at (202) 456-1111. Tell the President, “I appreciate the President’s support of LGBT immigrant families. I am calling to ask that when the President speaks tomorrow in Las Vegas, he specifically call for immigration reform that keeps gay binational families together.”

Then, call each of your Senators. Dial the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. The operator will be able to connect you with your Senator. When they do, tell them, “I am a constituent, and I am calling to ask the Senator to work for a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes the Uniting American Families Act.”

Then, call back a second time, and send the same message to your other Senator.

With your help, we can work to ensure that, when legislation is introduced in Congress, it includes our families. Now is the time to pass immigration reform that helps all families. That starts – right now – with your phone calls.

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