December 21, 2009
Immigration bill leaves out gays

by Jennifer Bendery
Roll Call

A bill introduced earlier this year by Rep. Mike Honda (D- Calif.) dealing with family reunification policies for immigrants was completely rolled into the reform package, except for its provisions allowing same-sex partners of permanent residents to qualify for a visa. The decision behind the little-noted change sparked friction between liberals hoping to kick off debate with an all-inclusive bill and Hispanic leaders more focused on keeping religious leaders on board with the plan.

"All the evangelists, Catholics and churches that are part of this were whacking out" over the gay and lesbian provisions, said a Democratic lawmaker familiar with negotiations on the bill.

The lawmaker said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who has led the House effort on comprehensive immigration reform, initially "didn't want to deal with it. At all." Then he tried to work out a "stupid" compromise whereby the same-sex partner provisions would be in the bill but they wouldn't take effect for five or six years, said this Member.

Read the complete story (Some news sites require registration)