Senate Judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on Tuesday reluctantly withheld an amendment to the comprehensive immigration bill that would protect binational same-sex couples.
“And I say this with a heavy heart,” Leahy said after withholding the amendment. “You know, I look at what my state went through on this issue, they finally went through the debate and said, ‘Wait a minute, human beings are human beings.'”
“The former senior senator from Vermont, Bob Stafford, a man I greatly admire, Mr. Republican in our state, said if you have two people who love each other they make each other better and we’re all better because of that. Well, if you have two people that love each other, and they’re married to each other, but one is outside this country, shouldn’t they be joined together in this country?”
“So I will hope that senators eventually join with me to get this done at some point,” Leahy added.
At the Senate Judiciary Committee mark-up of the legislation, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) warned the amendment was a “bridge too far.” He said including the amendment would force Republicans to kill the entire immigration bill, citing opposition from evangelical Christians and Catholics.
Democratic senators — including Dianne Feinstein (CA), Dick Durbin (IL), Chuck Schumer (NY), and Al Franken (MN) — also said they would not support the amendment because it would endanger immigration reform.
“There will by another day, Mr. Chairman, and many of us will be by your side to see this become the law,” Durbin said. “But I hope that today we can keep this coalition together and pass immigration reform.”
The federal Defense of Marriage Act currently prohibits binational same-sex couples from receiving the same immigration rights as opposite-sex couples.