If Immigration Reform Fails … Blame Gay Marriage?

Bipartisanship still has its limits


This is all your fault!
Credit: rauchdickson / / CC BY-NC-SA

The bipartisan Gang of Eight's omnibus, 844-page epic love poem to new immigration bureaucracy that aims to make the process easier somehow does not include any provisions to assist gay foreign nationals who are in relationships with American citizens.

Politico notes that Democrats are considering an amendment to allow gay Americans to sponsor their partners for citizenship, but doing so could jeopardize everything due to Republican opposition:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has told advocates that he will offer an amendment during the bill markup next week allowing gay Americans to sponsor their foreign-born partners for green cards, just as heterosexual couples can. The measure is likely to pass because Democrats face pressure from gay rights advocates to deal with it in committee, rather than on the Senate floor, where the odds of passage are far less favorable.

But by doing so, Republicans warn that Democrats will tank the whole bill.

"It will virtually guarantee that it won't pass," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Gang of Eight negotiating group, told POLITICO in a brief interview. "This issue is a difficult enough issue as it is. I respect everyone's views on it. But ultimately, if that issue is injected into this bill, the bill will fail and the coalition that helped put it together will fall apart."

Presumably, if the Supreme Court decides to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the issue would be irrelevant, but it seems the fierce urgency of now blah blah blah:

Some Democrats were hoping that gay rights advocates would agree to hold off until the bill hit the Senate floor. By then, the Supreme Court could have rendered the issue moot by issuing a decision on cases with the potential to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and requiring the federal government to treat gay married couples that same as straight couples.

But advocates aren't willing to wait. They don't want to gamble on the Supreme Court ruling in their favor. And the chances of drumming up 60 votes to add it on the Senate floor are slim.

"Immigration reform is a once-in-a-generation event at this point," Tiven said. "If LGBT families are left out of this bill, there may be no way to hold their family together in the United States."

Unless, as was just pointed out, DOMA is struck down. Now some Republicans are slowly warming to the idea that DOMA is bad legislation. Even if the Supreme Court does not rule against DOMA, its days may well be numbered.

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  1. it’s like folks invent ways of stopping bills; pick a hobby horse, any hobby horse and ride it hard enough.

    1. It’s like all these laws are shitty or something.

  2. I believe that getting it to fall apart is the intention.

    The Democrats need the unions, and the unions hate the free movement of people with a passion.

    1. Well duh! It’s always Canada’s fault. Their malefaction is a depressing constant.

    2. See, this seems to conflict directly with What Would Brian Boitano Do?

      1. Brian Boitano isn’t really from Canada.

        1. Next you’ll be telling me that John Candy was Canadian.

          1. Neither John Caqndy nor Rick Morranis are Canadian. All great entertainers who pretend to be Canadian are from the planet Krylock, and fake being born in Canada since nobody from outside Canada would brave the dangers of going there to check the records.

            Celine Dion, however is Canadian, which explains her evilness and lack of talent.

    3. No, no…it said blame the homos. Always blame the homos.

  3. To do (blow)jobs americans wont do.
    Yeah, I couldn’t resist. Sorry

    1. Speaking of that; next time you’re in Bangkok, check out Lolita’s and ask for “Jasmine”.

      Jus’ sayin’

  4. I’m torn, am I excited that someone’s throwing a poison pill into what is surely bad legislation, or annoyed that it’s gay rights activists piling up political capital and setting it ablaze?

    1. I dunno. Personally, I find the institutionalized discrimination against gay men and women in our immigration laws to be an egregious violation of the 14th.

      1. I agree, immigration is one of the two major hangups I have whenever the gay marriage debate comes up, but gay rights groups seem hell bent on pushing their advantage even when it’s not advantageous to do so.

        Gay marriage has done poorly among recent immigrant populations in the US. I wouldn’t want to hand gay marriage opponents this wedge next time marriage comes up for a vote.

        1. Stop considering marriage in this issue and the problem goes away. Remove the word “marriage” from the federal register and all sorts of inequities go away.

          1. Sure does, you go march on Washington to stop straights from sponsoring their foreign born spouses.

            I’ll wait here. Let me know when you have that taken care of.

            1. You go ahead and hang with the statist collectivists in the corner while I take the point.

              1. Haha, will do. You can find me there to tell me when you’ve convinced even a large minority of straight Americans that they’d be better off without federally recognized marriage.

                I actually agree with your principle, I just think you’re an asshat for thinking that gay people ought not agitate for access to civil marriage because it would be even better if in some mythical future straight people didn’t have it either.

                1. No, you don’t have a clue and it is blatantly obvious.

                  By the way, all sorts of people are “sponsored” without being married or romantically involved, some of them are called employees. Using a marriage license as a golden ticket is something, it just is not liberty.

                  Have a beautiful day on your day job at Slate, slaver.

                  1. So straight people are still sponsoring their spouses and you’re still angry that gay people might do the same? Yawn, I thought you were going to come and find me once you’ve taken care of the horrible injustice against liberty that is straight marriage.

                    Are you married AA? Do you rail against your married straight friends for being puppets of the state? Who am I kidding, you probably wouldn’t have a ton of friends if you were that kind of gadfly, would you?

                    1. You sure are nosy. Did you write that without a license, or did you farm it out to someone?

                      If you are just dying to know my marriage status, race, and any of your other busybody wants, you have to wait for the next edition of The Arena at FEE.Org.

                      Good day, and good life.

                    2. I don’t see how me wanting to know if you’re married is being nosy. You say me wanting to be able to get married is jackbooted statism; your marital status is salient to whether you’re an honest actor in this discussion or if you’re a hypocrite.

                      Since you no longer want to discuss this after avoiding substantively addressing that if gay marriage is tyranny than straight marriage is too (and a larger one at that), or even coming close to explaining why gay couples should wait for a scenario where straight people are also not getting civil marriages (or how that will come about), I suppose I will “take the point.”

                      You have a good day too, AA. May the road rise up to meet you and all that.

                    3. Again, you just don’t get it. As long as you walk the planet thinking that everything comes from government, you never will get it either.

                      You say me wanting to be able to get married is jackbooted statism

                      I never said that, you know I never said that, and you cannot show where I ever said that. I am the one advocating you marry any adults who want to be married to you, no matter how closely related they are, no matter what sex they are. Accusing me of not wanting to discuss it is pretty hilarious coming from you.

                      Rights are not to be licensed, be they the right to go armed, the right to speak, or the right to marry. I know, this is really confusing to you so read it a few hundred more times and don’t bother responding.

                      Now run along and lie about someone else.

                    4. Where have I ever said that everything I want comes from the government AA? My two main issues are places where straight couples are sheltered from the excesses of government: immigration and 5th amendment spousal privilege. Getting a slip of paper from the government doesn’t make my relationship anymore “valid” and I frankly don’t care much about the tax issue. I’m only really concerned about points where the abuses of the current legal regime can be avoided. I wish they could be avoided for everyone, I’m strongly in favor of open borders and think it’s terrible that someone can be thrown in jail for refusing to testify against anyone, but I have a hard time imagining the state loosening its grip that much.

                      And a while back, for THAT, you asked what my jackbooted justification was. I’m very sorry I don’t have a link back on that. Feel free to tell me I have a lack of vision, that’s probably true, but I’m hardly interested in imposing tyranny on anyone.

                    5. You just don’t understand because you’re a Slate-loving statist socialist slaver in disguise, Jesse.

      2. I actually have a personal friend who moved to Canada so she could marry her girlfriend and live together. Her wife is from Britain, so she would have had to immigrate to the US, and since she is a kayak instructor she doesn’t really fall under any of the easy immigration categories. So effectively, there was no humanly possible way to get her legally into the US.

    2. Hmm, you do have a point, the immigration reform bill s pretty horrible, in that it does not go nearly far enough. It is mostly about legalizing people already here and adding a few extra layers of regulation and enforcement. It does nothing to actually reform the actual immigration laws that led to this situation.

      1. That’s my thought on it. At 844 pages I doubt that my opinion is that well informed, but then again I doubt that any given senator’s is either. Anything even remotely in the amnesty vein temporarily relieves pressure on an overburdened system instead of making the system effective enough to keep up with demand.

        1. I’m fine with amnesty if it’s accompanied by real reform. It’s not just that the system is ineffective or overburdened.

          It’s that there is legally really no path for these people to immigrate.

          Even the people who CAN immigrate legally face multi-year waiting lists. Those waiting lists aren’t caused by the system being overburdened, they are caused by the low annual visa quotas.

          They need to (a) raise the visa quotas to a reasonable level to reduce the waiting lists, and (b) create a reasonable legal path for unskilled laborers with no US relatives to immigrate.

          1. I think we’re largely in agreement with this, my problem with amnesty is that it creates a temporary false sense that our system isn’t broken, were they to pair it with reforms that weren’t bureaucratic hand waving, I’d be fine with it.

            The backlogs for legal immigration are huge. I’d say they’re overburdened, but I think that’s a design feature via caps and quotas, not a bug.

  5. I think this is a case where you should let courts do the work. Immigration is a national issue, and IIRC, the Supreme Court has already ruled that the federal government controls immigration policy. But if gays are allowed to marry, and those marriages are recognized at the federal level for benefits then there is a strong case that they cannot exclude gays from sponsoring their spouses. The immigration laws cover both male and female spouses and are already written to be gender neutral. It’s likely that if they wanted to exclude gays, legally they would have to write specific language excluding gays. If DOMA falls then excluding gays from immigration won’t stand either. Thus there is no need to jeopardize the immigration bill by adding this.


  7. I tend to agree with Micky Kaus that this is all a scam.

    Even if the Supreme Court does not rule against DOMA, its days may well be numbered.

    Yes, because in Washington laws that current lawmakers have qualms about are quickly repealed. What are you smoking over at Reason?

    If the Supreme Court upholds DOMA but Congress revisits it anyway, they’ll be three factions: 1) those that want to keep DOMA 2) those that will want the federal government to recognize gay marriage if it’s recognized by the state where it was performed, 3) those that think Congress should, under the 14th Amendment, require all states to recognize gay marriage. (This will be followed by the lawsuits from states that think Congress is overstepping its powers). Good luck getting your average politician to open up that can of worms.

    1. Nothing about that SCOTUS DOMA case is about marriage equality and every bit of it is about tax status.

  8. The gay marriage thing is a poison pill to do away with “immigration reform” while blaming Republicans for is demise. Democrats are increasingly uncomfortable with the immigration bill after the Tsarnaev fiasco. Even stupid voters now know that one guy, after warnings from at least two other nations, a trip to a terrorist hotbed, and questioning by the FBI stays in the country and sets off two bombs at a large public event.

    This was one guy, known at least to the FBI, INS, and State Department. And we’re supposed to trust these agencies and suddenly bless the presence of 11+ million walk-ins?

    Democrats face the fallout from Obamacare, starting this fall when the online signups are supposed to start and kicking in full next January. Add to that the resentment left after the gun control fiasco and many of them are seriously nervous about next November’s elections. They will be relieved if the bill dies and they can pin its demise on the GOP.

    1. “This was one guy, known at least to the FBI, INS, and State Department. And we’re supposed to trust these agencies and suddenly bless the presence of 11+ million walk-ins?”

      Huh? So the solution is to give the government even more power?

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