Common Sense Immigration Reform to Include LGBT Couples

29 Jan

Today Obama called for “common sense” immigration reform to help immigrants “get on the right side of the law”. Ok well duh.

Before President Obama’s immigration reform speech, which he gave today in Las Vegas, BuzzFeed broke a story reporting that Obama would include same-sex couples in his immigration reform proposal.

As it is now, even a legally married same-sex partner under state law is unable to confer citizenship for their foreign-born spouse. In the same situation a heterosexual person married to a foreign born spouse would be able to receive a green card for that spouse. This pretty much leaves same-sex couples with the choice between separating or moving to another country.

While Obama did not specifically call for equal rights for same-sex couples in his speech today for immigration reform, the Write House did release a set of proposals that urges lawmakers to guarantee same-sex the same privileges granted to heterosexual couples.

Under the heading Streamlining Legal Immigration, and the bullet Keep Families Together the proposal states-

“It also treats same-sex families as families by giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner.”

The Senate framework laid out by a bipartisan group of eight senators was unveiled Monday, and same-sex couples were not included. Additionally, the federal defense of Marriage Act, (DOMA) defining marriage as being between one man and one woman, is still in place. And while the Supreme Court is to rule on the legality of DOMA this year, it may not be overturned.

Even so according to Steve Rall a spokesman for Immigration Equality a group that supports immigration equality for LGBT families said this, “We’re really hoping the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA in June, but if it doesn’t happen, immigration reform is a critical safety net for lesbian and gay couple, because if DOMA does not get struck down, they would be vulnerable to separation.”

Even if an immigration proposal including federal recognition of same-sex couples fails, this set of proposals by the president is a great way to begin a conversation about gay rights. It may help work to shift public opinion towards a more positive one. Beginning with his inclusion of the LGBT community in his inaugural address, Obama has made it clear where he stands on the issue of same-sex rights.  It’s a bold move in the right direction that could potentially change the lives of thousands of American immigrants.

President Obama- “If Congress in unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send them a bill based on my proposal and insist they vote on it right away.”

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