Vice President Joe Biden said the Obama administration will “wait and see” what the Senate comes up with on immigration reform before determining whether to insist a provision for same-sex couples be included in the package, according to a report from Bloomberg News.
“We’re going to wait and see what the Senate bill and the bipartisan group presents, and we’ll make our judgments,” Biden reportedly said during an interview on Capitol Hill. “We made it clear what we think should be done, and we’ll see.”
Biden’s remarks suggest the Obama administration is closely monitoring whether language will be included in immigration reform to ensure bi-national same-sex couples can remain together in the United States — a provision Obama included in his proposal for a change in U.S. immigration law.
An official in Biden’s office clarified for the Washington Blade that Biden “was simply stating that he wanted to see specific legislation” and the White House looks forward to working with Congress as it develops a bill.
Steve Ralls, a spokesperson for the LGBT group Immigration Equality, said he interpreted Biden’s remarks to mean if language isn’t included in the initial legislation, the administration will try to find other opportunities to include gay couples in the final package.
“I take the vice president’s remarks to mean that, if Congress crafts a bill without LGBT families in it, the administration will look at opportunities, as a bill moves forward in the legislative process, to work with our allies on putting our families in,” Ralls said.
Ralls added the administration has been clear it wants bi-national same-sex couples included as part of immigration reform and expects Congress to take an active approach on the issue.
“President Obama spent considerable political capital to see ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repealed, and he has been an integral part of ensuring [the Defense of Marriage Act's] defeat,” Ralls said. “Every recent action he has taken, and the plan he has outlined, indicates to me that we should expect the same for immigration reform.”
Obama included a provision for bi-national same-sex couples as part of the plan that he unveiled for immigration reform. The Senate framework doesn’t include such language. Although Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said the issue hasn’t come up yet in discussions, Republicans have been dismissive of the idea.
During a forum hosted by Buzzfeed on Feb. 5, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said when asked about including language for bi-national same-sex couples in immigration reform, ”If that issue becomes a central issue in the debate, it’s just going to make it harder to get it done.”