Plans to give US citizens the right to sponsor a foreign same-sex partner for legal status were withdrawn before a Senate panel vote regarding wider immigration reform on Tuesday.
Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy (D-VT), wavered under pressure and left out his proposed amendment which would benefit LGBT couples.
His proposed bill would have allowed for American gay and lesbian individuals in binational relationships to be sponsors of their foreign partners. Therefore providing an opportunity for their partner to gain access to immigration and to officially marry under the law.
However Leahy withdrew his proposal before it could be voted on in Senate.
Legislators pushed Leahy to remove his bill in order to save the broader immigration bill which members of the panel believed could offer millions of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, rather than just the LGBT community.
Panel members worried that the larger immigration bill would be killed in Congress if the proposal for gay couples remained.
“I’m committed to ending that discrimination,” Senator Leahy said before withdrawing the amendment.
“I dont want to be the senator who asks people to choose between the love of their life and the love of their country,” he added
The bill’s supporters had asked Leahy to remove the proposal in order to save the legislation.
“I believe in my heart of hearts that what you’re doing is the right and just thing. But I believe this is the wrong moment, this is the wrong bill,” Richard Durbin (D-IL) said.
Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who also sat on the panel, said the decision to leave out same-sex couples was a pragmatic one.
“The bottom line is that in the political reality in which we operate, the Senate and more broadly, the US Congress, those who disagree with me have more than enough power to prevent passage, either as a stand-alone bill or as part of the immigration bill,” Schumer said in a statement on Facebook.
“If we added [the amendment]to the S.744 [immigration bill]in committee, they would have walked away and the bill would have failed. The result: no equality, no immigration bill. Everyone loses,” he concluded.