April 11, 2011 | by Chris Johnson
UAFA, ENDA introduction set for Thursday

Rep. Jerrold Nadler is set to introduce UAFA in the House (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Two key pieces of pro-LGBT legislation — the Uniting American Families Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — are set for introduction in Congress on Thursday, according to an informed source.

An LGBT rights advocate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Thursday Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) would introduce UAFA in the House and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) would introduce ENDA in the Senate.

“It’s actually kind of a big gay week,” the advocate said. “We also have the civil unions bill in Delaware expected on Thursday and then Friday is the DOMA hearing. So it’s actually a pretty active week where our issues are concerned.”

Nadler’s office didn’t respond on short notice to respond to confirm that UAFA would see introduction in the House on Thursday. Last week, Ilan Kayatsky, a Nadler spokesperson, said the lawmaker would introduce the bill “shortly.”

As it was introduced in the 111th Congress, UAFA would enable gay Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for residency in the United States as straight Americans can do for their foreign spouses. Based on U.S. Census data from 2000, current immigration law threatens to tear apart 36,000 bi-national same-sex couples in the United States.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the House introduction of UAFA would be concurrent with the Senate introduction. In the 111th Congress, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was the sponsor of UAFA.

Erica Chabot, a Leahy spokesperson, said her boss would again introduce the legislation in the 112th Congress, but added she doesn’t have a date for when that would happen.

“Sen. Leahy is committed to reintroducing UAFA, but I don’t have a date certain at this time,” she said.

On the same day Nadler is expected to introduce UAFA in the House, Merkley is expected to introduce ENDA in the Senate.

Julie Edwards, a Merkley spokesperson, said in response to a request to confirm whether the bill would be introduced Thursday that the legislation would be debut “soon” and she could say more later.

The Senate version of ENDA, according to Capitol Hill sources, is set to have Republican support immediately upon introduction from Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Mirk Kirk (R-Ill.),

Kevin Kelley, a Collins spokesperson, said his boss and Kirk would be original co-sponsors along with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee. But Kelley said he couldn’t confirm the date of introduction at this time.

Christian Berle, deputy executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, said Snowe would also be an original co-sponsor for ENDA. Snowe and Collins were both original co-sponsors in the 111th Congress.

“I just got confirmation from Sen. Snowe’s office that she will be an original co-sponsor of ENDA,” Berle said.

ENDA would bar job discrimination against LGBT people in most situations in the public and private workforce. Job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is legal in 29 states and legal in 38 states on the basis of gender identity.

Last week, gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) introduced the House version of ENDA. As of Monday, the legislation had 117 co-sponsors. Frank has said Republican control of the House will prevent passage of ENDA during the 112th Congress.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Chabot confirmed Leahy is set to introduce UAFA on Thursday in the Senate, which would be concurrent with the introduction of the bill in the House. She said she’d have information on co-sponsors upon introduction.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

10 Comments
  • it’s about time the UAFA is finally passed

  • I am don’t expect either act to pass the 112th session, but we can get some idea of just how much work we have left ahead of us to become first class citizens.

  • I am disheartened that even our leaders just take it as a forgone conclusion that it would be impossible to pass ENDA in this session of Congress. There is a chance of passage IF supporters believe it is possible, knowing the broad support that exists for ENDA among everyday Republicans, Democrats and Independents, and people of all faiths. But if we don’t act on that belief that it’s possible, if we throw up our hands and resign ourselves to failure, then we create a self-fulfilling prophecy. But know in our hearts the rightness of the cause of equality — and that even people who are not yet on board can get on board if we invite them persistently enough — and we may even be able to create some surprising success, even in this session of Congress.

  • Please everyone stop the hate. Homosexuals are not against God. Read this article! http://notzrimkabbalah.com/HomosexualityandGod.html

    The word “Marriage” means two forces joined together in spirit with Blessings from God. The State has no rights to this, yet the State marries people. Marriage has NEVER meant a man and woman in an oath of love for life. Ignorant people who do not study the Torah and Bible have proclaimed what Marriage means….from this we have UNJUST laws!

    Rabbi’s and Preachers, Priests, and Professors support the Gay and Lesbian Marriages. I am a straight man, and I will support Justice and fight Injustice. Read that article if you believe the Bible says homosexuality is evil. Read that article.

  • At this point I want to punch a f*cking wall! When the Dems had the House and the Senate ENDA was nowhere to be found. We were promised time and time again the it would be introduced but I guess that was just a lie.

    As far as the UAFA goes-I had high hopes in 2009-10 with the Dems in charge of the House, the Senate and the White House, they would be able to push it through. It’s now 2011 and my partner and I are STILL waiting. And we’ll have no choice but to continue to wait. No way it passes with the teabaggers in the House. A lot of GLBT activists warned of this. They knew we only had a certain amount of time to push through some important legislation. But the Dems and the President knows we have no choice but to vote for them so were as important as a piece of gum at the bottom of someone’s shoe. That is until the election of course. Then they’ll be all the speeches about equality and how the gay community has a ‘fierce advocate’ in the White House. Really? Where?

    How many years must binationals be in such limbo? How long will our families be separated, pushed into exile? I am sick to death of the speeches, sick of how spineless the Dems are and sick of how the GOTP have increased their hatred of GLBT tax paying Americans. For f*ck sake Dems, take some action. This is NOT the wedge issue it used to be. Equality is a winning issue. Stop acting like wimps already!

  • Why don’t all the gay bi-nationals in this country just refuse to leave the country?They can’t deport ALL the gay couples now can they? I don’t know who to trust anymore, I guess all we have to trust is ourselves.

  • I get more and more sick everytime I think about this. My partner is Canadian and I had to move to Canada in order for us to be together. We both want nothing more than to live and work in the US but the country I grew up and was born in – will not allow me to do this. Makes me sick. I had a great paying job and saw my family every day. Now I’m 12 hours from them and can barely get the time to see them on holidays. Who will the UAFA hurt? And if you are against gay marriage – fine – be against it but this is not about gay marriage. This act is about bringing families together that deserve to be together. And it’s about equal immigration rights for all American born citizens to let them live with the person they love in their own country.

  • My comments couldn’t be any more on target than the comments posted by FAEN. I also wish that my partner and I could move to Canada to be together. As it is I have been preparing to give up my job and relocate to Ukraine so that my partner and I can be together.

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