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LGBT Provision Included in Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

I’m trying to figure out why Robert Menendez picked today to roll out a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Yes, it’s clearly an election document, but since when does “introducing a bill” show a commitment? Besides, Democrats already introduced the framework of a bill months ago; this barely advances the ball.

As for whether this will get introduced in the lame duck session, well, allow me to contain my laughter.

If there’s one thing that’s positive in this iteration of immigration reform, it’s that the Uniting American Families Act was included in the bill. The rest is the same mish-mash of the path to citizenship, border and workplace enforcement, and the rest. I like that the AgJobs bill, on which Stephen Colbert famously testified last week, is in there as well. But the UAFA is significant. Here’s a rundown of the bill.

About 24,000 gay and lesbian couples in the United States include at least one foreign partner, according to an analysis of census data by researcher Gary Gates at UCLA’s Williams Institute. Though five states and D.C. issue marriage licenses to gay couples, a large number of the 24,000 so-called binational couples in long-term relationships live in states that do not allow or recognize gay marriage […]

Gay and lesbian foreigners around the country who are in the same predicament as de Leon said the opposition of powerful Catholic and Latino groups was ironic because those groups often saw an immigration overhaul as a civil rights issue – and were quick to blame xenophobia and racism for anti-immigrant sentiment – while simultaneously arguing against equal rights for gays and lesbians.

Another Washington gay couple, who requested that their names not be published because the foreign partner is a Latino man currently living in the country under false pretenses and the American partner is a prominent Republican whose identity could easily lead authorities to the other man, said gays and lesbians fall in love in the same unpredictable way as straight people. Sometimes, the object of that love happens to be a foreigner.

Incidentally, this is why Glenn Greenwald lives in Brazil.

I’m dubious that this comprehensive bill will get anywhere past the discussion stage. But I’m glad we’re even having a discussion about the UAFA. It’s common-sense policy that would make a difference in the lives of a significant number of people. What’s more, it solidifies the LGBT/immigrant’s rights cross-pollinating activism that has been occurring over the past several months. This kind of progressive advocacy that doesn’t look at a single issue but advances rights across the entire movement is a very good sign for the future.

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David Dayen

David Dayen