Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced Tuesday that he planned to file an amendments to the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill that would expand the rights of LGBT individuals.
“For immigration reform to be truly comprehensive, it must include protections for all families,” he said in a statement. “We must end the discrimination that gay and lesbian families face in our immigration law.”
Leahy’s amendments would allow gay or lesbian couples to sponsor their foreign partners for green cards in the United States and provide lawfully married binational same-sex couples — in which one partner is a U.S. citizen and one is not — with equal protection under existing immigration law.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin considering the amendments on Thursday.
Currently, binational same-sex couples are not entitled to the same immigration rights as opposite sex couples because the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The 1996 law defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman.
A Williams Institute study from 2011 found there was 28,500 binational same-sex couples in the United States, who were raising an estimated 7,700 children.
The Washington Blade noted that Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) have spoken out against such legislation, warning it could completely kill the effort to reform the nation’s immigration system.