Same-sex couples still hopeful for immigration rights

After the Senate failed to vote for equal rights for same-sex couples in the immigration debate, supporters of the bill are still behind it, saying that there are other aspects of the bill that bring them hope. On May 21, the Senate voted in favor of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” legislation, leaving out rights for same-sex couples in the process. Members feared that including this amendment in the bill could cost them votes from conservatives. Although supporters think that the bill isn’t perfect, many immigrants are still behind it because of what it represents to their families. However, some are upset by the lack of recognition and political interest they’ve gotten in the process.

“Immigrants come in all shapes and forms,” Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist and immigration reform advocate, told The Huffington Post. “Is it too much to ask to be looked at as a full human being, as an undocumented immigrant who happens to be gay? That’s what I find so frustrating in this whole process. But I support this bill. This is not a perfect bill but we need to move forward and this is a bill that gets us forward. So let’s go forward.”

Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., was the “Gang of Eight” member who proposed including same-sex couples in the immigration legislation. However, some senators, including Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., threatened to vote against the immigration bill if it recognized same-sex marriages.

“It would mean that the bill would fall apart because the coalition would fall apart because no matter how well-meaning you are, Sen. Leahy – and I know you are – there are a lot of folks supporting this bill who are not going to agree to redefine marriage for immigration law purposes,” Graham told NPR.