Obama to include gays in immigration reform plan, while Senate Dems abandon us

Big scoop from Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed.  President Obama will include a fix for gay binational couples in his proposed immigration reform plan on Wednesday.  Good for him.

Unlike straight couples who can get married in order to seek green cards and then citizenship for the non-American spouse, gay couples’ marriages are not recognized by the federal government because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).   Thus even if married to an American citizen in a US state, the non-American partner is eventually deported.

Interestingly, for lack of a better word, the Senate bipartisan immigration reform proposal, which our own Gabe Ortiz will be writing about later this morning, does not include any remedy for gay couples, even though gays and lesbians are a rather important part of the Democratic coalition, and played a key role in the recent election.

But is anyone surprised?  When push comes to shove, Senate Democrats aren’t exactly known for their courage when it comes to civil rights generally, and gay civil rights in particular.  As Joe Sudbay wrote about, a lot, during the painful effort to get Democrats to move on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a lot of people in this town, and a lot of Democrats, suffer from political homophobia. It’s the notion that gay civil rights is a third rail they must avoid at all costs, even if the polls, and the public, are on our side.  Homophobia is an irrational fear of gay people, and far too many Democrats and Republicans suffer from it.  Even after their fear of moving forward on DADT ended up in a resounding repeal that included even more Republicans than we had expected, Democrats are still, obviously, afraid of “the gay.”

So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that the Senate Democrats came up with an immigration plan that did nothing to address the immigration problems faced by married gay couples.

LGBT contingent at the huge immigration march a few years back.

LGBT contingent at the huge immigration march a few years back.

The Democrats, of course, are blaming the Republicans for axing the gays:

Gay advocates had hoped that any immigration package would include the Uniting American Families Act, a bill that sought to put gay and lesbian couples on equal footing in the immigration system with heterosexual married couples. However, on Sunday afternoon, Sens. Schumer, Robert Menendez and Dick Durbin convened a conference call with gay rights groups to inform them that the legislation — at least the initial bill — will not include language to address LGBT concerns, a source familiar with the call told POLITICO.

They blamed it on the Republicans…. Schumer was very matter of fact about it, very Machiavellian,” said the source, who asked not to be named. Gay advocates were told that Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) will offer an amendment in his committee to protect gay couples.

While LGBT groups aren’t happy about their favored legislation being left off, they aren’t irate.

First off, I know a lot of gay couples who are going to be quite irate, especially at any gay rights groups who say they aren’t.  Schumer isn’t the only one who can channel Machiavelli.

Second, I call bull on the “Republicans ate my homework” excuse from Senate Dems.  The Democrats in the Senate agreed to the discriminatory deal.  They should have let the Republicans kill immigration reform, yet again – because it wouldn’t have happened.  The Republicans are desperate to do something, anything, that doesn’t antagonize Latinos any further, but rather curries favor, since the GOP is convinced (rightly) that the Latino vote was key to their demise, and Democratic victory, this past November. But far be it for Senate Democrats to use a tactical advantage to their, well, advantage.

Shame on Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Bob Menendez and Michael Bennet for caving to bigotry.  And kudos to President Obama for doing the right thing, and the politically smart thing.  (Dear God, we’re still playing the “gay civil rights are dangerous” game in 2013.  Absolutely incredible.)  Republicans are desperate for immigration reform.  And embracing gay rights is a political plus, not a minus, for Democrats, as the President has already learned.  Combining the two is a win-win for everyone.  Does anyone really think the Republicans are going to risk killing the very thing they’re now most desperate for?

Let’s hope Schumer, Durbin, Menendez and Bennet figure out how to fix this — once they cut you out of a bill, fat chance getting added back in. Because we don’t need a Democratic civil war over an immigration bill that we’re all supposed to be in favor of.  That will only benefit the Republicans.  But I fear that’s what’s coming if Democrats permit Republicans to throw gay couples overboard.  And that’s what three cowards in the Senate just did.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Krusher

    The Senate Dems are just doing what the Senate Dems have always done–lick the jackboots of the GOP. They never miss an opportunity to show how craven they can be.

  • EdA

    The issue is NOT, repeat NOT, what will pass the House. The issue — the ONLY issue — is what will pass the Senate, and if we get screwed in the House, that’s a different matter. There is no reason to get screwed from the get-go.

    There are a number of reasons why I don’t give to DSCC (or DCCC) but rather to individual candidates of my own choice or recommended by reputable organizations. This is just one more reason.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    The Democratic betrayal of gay couples is all but complete. Obama stripped any reference to the issue out of his speech, so he’ll be sending a meaningless, “gay inclusive” proposal to Capitol Hill, which is destined to go nowhere, and then he’ll claim as another “gay accomplishment” that he pretended to ask for the provision to be enacted. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/29/obama-immigration-reform-speech_n_2575572.html

  • cole3244

    dems abandoning their left wing supporters, what took them so long.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Amen! Schumer has never been reliable and has always had to be dragged kicking and screaming.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    “Senator John McCain is doing a great job sounding like an old jackass” It’s second nature for that tired old hero huckster.

  • unreligious

    Anyone who has followed New York politics should know that Senator Schumer’s support of gays begins and ends with marching in the Gay Pride Parade. He had to be shamed by Senator Gillibrand into supporting gay marriage. Let’s not forget how his wife Iris Weinshall as New York City’s transportation commissioner refused to allow gay positive ads on the subways and busses. Anyone who counts on him for support on gay issues is barking up the wrong tree. Rather than blame the Republicans lets put the blame on his doorstep where it belongs.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    exactly so

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    “these Democratic politicians feel they must deliver something for another part of their electorate.” The bigot other part? Good by. Your compromising justice and ‘the common good’ for political expediency is what we have come to expect from Obots. That you are gay, and your partner will suffer in this outrageous betrayal is indicative of a serious lack of character.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Right on!

  • Skeptical Cicada

    No, you’re not the only ostrich with your head in the ground who thinks the Supreme Court will strike down DOMA simply because you want it to. You’re welcome to go read the amicus brief by Vicki Jackson on the Supreme Court’s website.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    I don’t like having to waste my time on Uncle Toms, but it is sadly a necessary evil in any movement.

    Ah, now, I see your problem. You have blind faith in the Supreme Court to hand you your rights on a big silver platter without you having to lift an activist finger. You might want to head on over the to Supreme Court’s website and read the Court-ordered amicus brief by Vicki Jackson, arguing very convincingly that the Court lacks jurisdiction to even hear the DOMA appeals. The Court appears to be setting up a massive dodge of the whole issue, meaning DOMA will remain fully binding and enforceable in Michigan.

    Enjoy that when the straights-only bill ratchets up enforcement, eliminates the Obama waivers, and we see one gay spouse after another forcibly deported. Remember that you declared it an acceptable price to pay.

    P.S. You don’t seem to understand what passing the House with a combination of Democratic votes and a handful of moderate Republicans from those horrible places on the coasts means. It means your local bigot can vote no, and the bill still passes.

  • http://twitter.com/Olterigo Olterigo

    Acceptable to me, for example. I have been in a relationship with a foreign national of the same sex for many years now.

    What I have said is that I suspect the senators are realistic about what could squeak by through the House (if anything), and that these Democratic politicians feel they must deliver something for another part of their electorate. The point about Michigan was that Republicans out here – outside of New England and the more liberal coastal states – are the same as before. And it’s the Republicans (from Michigan and not) who have retained the Republican majority in the House. Meaning that a Republican supportive of immigration reform might be against same-sex couples getting equal immigration rights and might be quite willing to hedge his bets and let the bill sink.

    Either way, many Senators are lawyers (Schumer is, for example) who can see where things are going. When DOMA sec.3 is declared unconstitutional this summer, it will solve the problem. (If this immigration reform passes.) Anyway, I don’t like wasting my time on self-righteous nuts, so – ciao.

  • tember2

    But it’s ridiculous and unworkable to have such a dog’s breakfast of a system left in place (putting aside the injustice of it all). We can read the tea leaves all we want but I’m not the only one convinced DOMA is going to be toast come June.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    It completely contradicts what you said before because you were adamant that a bill be devised so that right-wing nuts from Michigan will support it. That’s not a bill worth passing.

    And if the “price” of a bill is ratcheting up enforcement so as to eradicate the president’s ability to informally prevent the forcible break up of gay marriages, how dare you declare that price acceptable! Acceptable to WHOM?

  • http://twitter.com/Olterigo Olterigo

    It’s not a surprise. It doesn’t contradict what I said before – it’s the price of passing the bill. If a Republican supports one, he or she does not necessarily support the other.

  • cambridgemac

    I just called Shumer’s office and told the staffer that I was appalled at Shumer’s “heterosexuals only” immigration bill and would be donating to his primary challenger. The staff said he was unaware of this. I directed him to AmericaBlog.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    It might be a surprise to you, but immigration reform is not going to pass the House with more than a handful of Republican votes. If it passes, it will pass as the fiscal cliff deal did: Democratic votes combined with a small number of moderate Republicans. And you are defending Democratic Senators, who had no trouble sucking down gay money before the election and have now capitulated without even trying.

    And if the Congressional Hispanic Caucus was planning to screw the gays all along, they should have been forthright about it instead of stringing us along with lip-service proposals that included this issue.

    And it might be a further surprise to you that having your spouse torn away from you and forcibly deported is an important matter.

  • http://twitter.com/Olterigo Olterigo

    Not to defend the Democratic Senators, but I think they have a much more accurate reading of what can pass the House than many here. After all, if everything is so peachy for the LGBTs and Immigration reform, why has the House remained Republican despite the Republican stance of perpetual No before the elections? The immigrants have already felt before like being thrown under a bus when DADT was repealed at the last moment, but the Dream Act was not passed. Would the Senators of the heavily immigrant states want to lose the votes for some posturing that is not likely to bring the desired results? It may be a surprise to you, but out here in Michigan, for example, the Republican politicians support the same policies they’ve supported all along – anti-gay and anti-immigrant.

  • Naja pallida

    Groups like the DSCC are a very good reason to donate specifically to candidates you like, instead of groups. Karl Rove and Dick Armey’s take-home pay from this last election are also good examples of why you don’t want to donate to a PAC either, unless for some reason you have to donate huge sums anonymously. Because you know it’s happening with Democratic PACs as well. With any group that doesn’t release it’s full accounting and a list of all of its donors, you know there’s somebody cashing in.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Yes, but only for the 1st and 2d Circuits (New York and New England) and only tentatively because the question would remain open at the Supreme Court level. It’s also unclear whether the administration could or would change its policy nationwide based on two lower court rulings.

  • FLL

    The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is a generic slush fund. They shovel money toward whichever candidate suits their whims, which can often be conservative Blue Dog Democrats. Support Senate candidates on an individual basis, based on merit.

  • FLL

    In which case, the lower court ruling stands, correct?

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Oppose Chuck Schumer’s STRAIGHTS-ONLY Immigration Bill!

  • Skeptical Cicada

    The problem, as John points out, is that old men like Schumer don’t see that the world has changed because they can’t believe that voters aren’t as prejudiced toward gays as they still are.

    Schumer didn’t stumble into anything. He buried a knife in our backs and knew it when he was doing it.

    The language can be put in the bill at the outset, thus requiring 60 votes to remove it, or the language can be left out of the bill at the outset, thus requiring 60 votes to ADD it. Schumer chose the latter, forcing us to get 60 votes instead of 41. Those bastards have done this time and again.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    There is a very good chance that the Supreme Court is NOT going to be ruling on DOMA anytime soon. They have appointed an attorney to argue why they have no jurisdiction to hear the appeal, and the attorney (a Harvard Law prof) just filed a very strong brief arguing that the Court has no power to decide the appeal.

    If you’re not fighting for inclusion in this immigration bill because you’re certain the Court will come to the rescue, you’re setting yourself up for a massive disappointment.

  • David-Eric Fabie – Lim

    For many of the thousands of bi-national same sex couples living both in the United States and (like us) in exile abroad, we have frankly given up on either the Democrats in Congress or the Obama Administration for any real courage on this issue. It will be the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA that will finally settle this issue .

  • http://twitter.com/sipples Timothy Sipples

    Maybe, or maybe the blowback against McCain’s voiced stupidity today will be big enough. The world has changed, and the remaining bigots are much more politically exposed than they were even three months ago.

    I could be wrong, and it’s also possible Schumer stumbled into creating a “teachable moment in anti-bigotry” for all the wrong reasons. We’ll see.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Call his Senate office: 202-224-6542 and have them tell the conniving bastard what you think.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    NO! The betrayal has already happened. By refusing to include the language in the initial version of the bill, it requires us to secure an amendment to put it into the legislation and if that isn’t done in committee–which it won’t be–then it can’t be done on the Senate floor because it will face a Republican filibuster and a 60-vote requirement. This is exactly how these bastards kept screwing us over in the last four years. Giving lip service to provisions, and claiming to want them, but leaving them out of bills and forcing us to get 60 votes to add them on the Senate floor. FUCK SCHUMER!

  • Skeptical Cicada

    I have been warning for two years that the very first thing the Democratic Party would do on immigration reform is throw the gays overboard. It’s been those bastards standard operating procedure for decades. When the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee comes around sniffing for money for 2014, remind them of their immigration betrayal and tell them to go fuck themselves.

  • http://twitter.com/sipples Timothy Sipples

    Senator John McCain is doing a great job sounding like an old jackass in trying to defend his opposition to treating same sex married couples the same as opposite sex married couples in immigration matters. Moreover, Schumer never said the senators are in full agreement — he said the opposite, actually. I’m more inclined to judge the dear senators on what they actually achieve (or don’t), and that should be clear soon enough.

  • kevinbgoode

    It continues to amaze me how many different ways our political system tries to perpetuate second-class semi-citizenship to some groups. How difficult is this equality concept anyway?

    I am sick and tired of political actors, who are elected to protect the rights of ALL Americans, posturing over what is clearly an outrage to any reasonable person. This is a policy which should have been dumped years ago, along with the clearly unconstitutional pile of crap known as DOMA. Congress KNEW when they passed DOMA that it was realistically unconstitutional. Democrats might have contended that DOMA was an end run around the threat of a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage at the time it was passed, but to think so many elected officials consider it perfectly fine to expect additional suffering of ANY group of citizens because they aren’t ready to stop dragging their feet is just another example of what is wrong with Washington.

    DOMA has always been an embarassment to the U.S. Constitution. And the perpetuation of unnecessary suffering of same-sex couples because of these archaic, irresponsible immigration laws needs to end. We are either full citizens of this nation or we aren’t – and it is time for these senators – and our Congress, to get off their duffs and make that declaration.

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.george.90 Don George

    Well said, John. The fact that these four Democrats agreed to unveil a framework that excluded gay couples only one week after President Obama made such a huge deal in his Inaugural address of treating gay people equally in this country, is an affront to the President as well as gays.

  • caphillprof

    Chuck Schumer needs a wake up call. Does anybody have his cell number?

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