Supporters of immigration reform face tough choice - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Supporters of immigration reform face tough choice

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WASHINGTON -

Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform are facing a tough choice: hold out for explicit protection for same-sex married couples or face failure.

On Tuesday, a same-sex couple held a "symbolic" wedding at a liberal church on Capitol Hill in front of an audience of "dreamers" -- young people who have come to Washington to lobby Congress for a comprehensive bill.

Some of the speakers at the church told the young attendees that they should hold out for legislation that explicitly protects gay couples. Until recently, only straight, married couples in the U.S. could get green card status (and eventual citizenship) for the non-American member of the couple.

In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court found parts of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Same sex couples now presume they will have equal access to all federal benefits of marriage. But many gay rights supporters still want those guarantees written into any comprehensive immigration reform bill.

The National Organization for Marriage is neutral on immigration law reform unless the bill offers specific protection to gay couples. Leaders of the group say they would then fight the legislation. NOM's communications director Thomas Peters told us, "This is the administration kowtowing to a group of powerful gay activists and lobbyists who want to have their agendas in the front of the bus. And what's happening is all the other important stuff about immigration is being forced to the back."

Even in the Democratic-controlled Senate, the bipartisan group pushing for immigration reform stripped out protections for gay couples before passing a bill. Such a provision would have little chance of approval in the Republican-controlled House.

So, if supporters of immigration reform choose to fight for language protecting same-sex couples, the whole effort may fail.


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