Amendment to Immigration Bill Seeks to Include Gay Bi-National Couples

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Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy introduced legislation this week that would enable gays to sponsor their partners for legal residence in the U.S. under the new proposed immigration reform, according to Windy City Times.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider Leahy’s amendments as well as over 300 others starting today (May 9).

The Defense of Marriage Act, which federally defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman, prohibits a gay U.S. citizen legally married to a foreign person from petitioning legal stay for his or her partner. Heterosexual couples, on the other hand, can sponsor their husbands or wives for legal U.S. residence.

Leahy, who is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is the only Senator to file amendments with language that addresses same-sex couples. The first amendment seeks to give citizenship to “permanent partners” of U.S. citizens. The second would treat as a "spouse" a person who has entered a marriage with a citizen that is "valid in the State in which the marriage was entered into."

As Politico reports, some Republicans, like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, are against including gay bi-national couples. Rubio, born to Cuban immigrants, told Politico that adding any sort of language to allow foreign partners in same-sex relationships would “virtually guarantee” the bill’s failure.

Congress is expected to vote on the overall bill sometime in June.

  Ryan Dixon