Late last week, New Jersey Democrat, Senator Robert Menendez, introduced an LGBT-inclusive immigration reform bill, that would extend family-based immigration for same-sex couples. If passed–and of course, that’s a bit of a long shot–the Menendez bill would help some of the estimated 24,000 gay and lesbian couples in the US that include at least one foreign partner.
Under current immigration laws, straight couples can petition for their foreign-born husbands or wives to move to the United States as legal residents, but gay and lesbians are denied the ability to petition for foreign partners–even in states that allow gay marriage.
There has long been speculation that comprehensive immigration reform would include the Uniting American Families Act [UAFA] measure. Congressmen Luis Gutierrez, of Illinois, and Mike Honda, of California, have pushed for UAFA to be included in comprehensive reforms, claiming it could broaden the support base for the bill.
But then the churches come in. Notably, the Catholic Church, and a few other religious organizations, do support immigration reform, but argue that they cannot support a bill with gay rights measures because, you know, gays are bad. J. Kenneth Blackwell, a senior fellow at the evangelical, homophobic, wingnut Family Research Council, calls any inclusion of gay rights in immigration reform would be a “deal-breaker.”
And while it remains unclear whether the Menendez bill will go anywhere, LGBT advocates are applauding the inclusion of UAFA in the bill.