Gutierrez and Honda Push for Gay Rights in Immigration Law
Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Mike Honda (D-Calif.) will endorse legislation today that would ease immigration for gay and lesbian couples. The Uniting American Families Act, which was introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) in early 2009, would allow citizens and legal permanent residents to bring foreign same-sex partners into the country.
Gutierrez and Honda were already co-sponsors of the bill — they signed on in February 2009 — but it never made it to the House floor. Politico reports that the congressmen are trying to push for the bill again, this time as part of comprehensive immigration reform. The idea is to tie gay and lesbian rights to immigration to increase support for both. Republicans have their doubts about this strategy:
More than 100 House Democrats, including many Hispanics, have signed on to the comprehensive immigration bill Gutierrez introduced last December. But Joanna Burgos, a National Republican Campaign Committee spokeswoman, said the gay-rights provision—opposed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and National Association of Evangelicals—could scare away some of those supporters.
“If they’re trying to appeal to the Hispanic vote, gay marriage is not the right issue for their socially conservative values,” Burgos said. “I think it puts Democrats in Hispanic districts in an awkward position because they are very socially conservative.” …
Republican leaders, who are pressing the federal government to secure the border before fixing its broken immigration system, said they won’t support the immigration reform so long as it includes a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country.
“They’re trying to sweeten the package, but the fact is it’s got a poison pill inside it. They’re asking us to swallow amnesty,” said Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), chairman of the bipartisan Immigration Reform Caucus. “This is a special package that rewards illegal behavior instead of enforcing the law.”