When I returned to the United States from China five years ago, I left someone behind. My boyfriend of (then) 2.5 years. There was no way for him to come to the States and I needed to come back to finish my graduate studies. I wish I had a dime for every time somebody suggested, go to Massachusetts and get married. Oh, I wish it had been that easy.
As the well-educated members of this community well know, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) denies all federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. Even if we had gotten married in Massachusetts, he would have had to return to China. Today, it appears that the Supreme Court may be close to striking down the Defense of Marriage. Perhaps it was with an eye to the Supreme Court that Democrats today killed an amendment to the "comprehensive" immigration reform bill that will have allowed gay men and lesbians to sponsor their permanent partners for family based-immigration.
Apparently, the Democrats responsible were very upset about having to exclude people like me from their bill:
Four Democrats who are known for being LGBT rights supporters — Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) — said they were torn on the issue but couldn’t support the amendments out of fear it will kill the legislative package. Durbin and Franken had tears in their eyes as they explained why they couldn’t support the measures.Durbin and Franken were verklempt. I'm sure that will soothe the souls of the broken-hearted same-sex couples who learned this evening that in America in 2013, "comprehensive = heterosexual".
Two amendments were proposed by Leahy. One mirrors the Uniting American Families Act, which would enable gay Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for residency in the United States. The other would allow for the approval of marriage-based green card applications for married same-sex couples.
Sen. Patrick Leahy released the following statement:
“I take the Republican sponsors of this important legislation at their word that they will abandon their own efforts if discrimination is removed from our immigration system,” Leahy said. “So, with a heavy heart, and as a result of my conclusion that Republicans will kill this vital legislation if this anti-discrimination amendment is added, I will withhold calling for a vote on it. But I will continue to fight for equality.”So what's the big deal? This isn't a gay rights bill, its an immigration bill. I agree. It's not a gay rights bill, but its not a heterosexual privilege bill either. The point of the legislation was a comprehensive fix to our broken immigration system. Let me assure you all--it does not work for same-sex binational couples now and it will not work for same-sex binational couples if this bill is passed without UAFA. Even if DOMA is struck down, what happens to the same-sex couples who don't live in the twelve marriage equality states?
But same-sex binational couples are tiny minority compared to the millions of undocumented immigrants who will be helped by this bill. We're already a tiny minority. Fewer than 5% of the population identify as gay or lesbian. Being sacrificed for the precious 95% straight people is something we're accustomed to.
We can take care of this in separate legislation. LOL. Really? We couldn't get the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) through Congress when we had huge majorities in both chambers and a Democratic president. Heck, we can't even get this democratic president to sign an executive order banning anti-gay discrimination among federal contractors.
But hey, we'll get a big gay party in the White House for Gay Pride. I guess that's what's important.