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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 1, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 5
Obama: Stop breaking up LGBT families!
Section One
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Obama: Stop breaking up LGBT families!

President calls for including Gay couples in immigration reform

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

In a press release issued just before his major speech on immigration reform, President Obama said, 'The United States [should] treat same-sex couples the same as other families, meaning that people would be able to use their relationship as a basis to obtain a visa.'

While he did not mention the issue in the speech delivered in Las Vegas on January 29, it was the first time this - or any - White House has gone on record for extending the same rights to binational Gay and Lesbian couples that are enjoyed by straight couples.

Currently foreign-born opposite-sex spouses of U.S. citizens get priority for entry visas, green cards, and eventual citizenship, but same-sex partners do not - even if the couple was legally married abroad.

A PAINFUL CHOICE
In a January 30 press conference, White House spokesperson Jay Carney explained, 'The president 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.'

Legislation was unveiled in Congress on January 29, but same-sex couples were not included as part of the proposed reforms.

Heather Cronk, managing director of GetEQUAL, said the omission was part of a deal to get Republican votes for at least some kind of immigration package.

'It's my understanding that there is no explicit mention ... in order to get Republican sign-on on the issue,' Cronk said.

She also accused Catholic bishops of lobbying Congress to exclude same-sex couples from an immigration bill, and she worried that Gay and Lesbian couples might become a bargaining chip as legislation is written.

NADLER VOWS INCLUSION
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), prime sponsor in the U.S. House of the Uniting American Families Act, which would extend to committed Gay and Lesbian couples the same immigration privileges available to heterosexual married couples, promised same-sex couples would be covered.

'We made it quite clear that Gays and Lesbians are not second-class people,' Nadler said, 'and if we have general immigration reform they are going to be included, period.'

But Republican Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), one of the so-called 'group of eight' senators who are hoping to craft a bipartisan immigration bill, scoffed when a reporter asked him if LGBT protections could be included.

'I think it is a red herring,' McCain told Mike Allen of Politico. 'You might as well put in taxpayer-funded abortion.'

'Which is more important,' McCain asked, 'LGBT or border security? Huh? I'll tell you what my priorities are.'

LGBT ACTIVISTS WEIGH IN
Meanwhile, five national LGBT rights groups issued a joint statement supporting comprehensive immigration reform.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights, Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality Action Fund, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, and the National Center for Transgender Equality issued their statement on January 28.

'We are fully committed to, and deeply understand, the need for this nation to adopt a humane and effective comprehensive immigration policy which places a premium value on justice, dignity, respect, and opportunity,' they said.

'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.'

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