April 8, 2013 at 6:03 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Tiven: Gay couples will not ‘be included’ in immigration reform bill
Rachel Tiven, Immigration Equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Executive Director of Immigration Equality Rachel Tiven took part in immigration talks at the White House (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Immigration Equality Executive Director Rachel Tiven on Monday said she does not expect same-sex couples will be included in the comprehensive immigration reform bill a bi-partisan group of senators could potentially introduce by the end of the week.

“We are not expecting LGBT families to be included in the Gang of 8 bill,” she told the Washington Blade during a conference call ahead of a rally in support of comprehensive immigration reform on Wednesday that is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to the U.S. Capitol. “That in our minds means that of course the bill is incomplete.”

Tiven’s comments come roughly three months after President Obama publicly unveiled an immigration reform proposal that includes bi-national gay couples. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in February told the Senate Judiciary Committee the White House supports a provision that would allow gays and lesbians to sponsor their foreign-born partners for immigration purposes.

New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler on Feb. 5 introduced the bill in the House of Representatives with U.S. Reps. Charles Dent (R-Pa.) and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) as co-sponsors. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif,) House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.,) Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez and U.S. Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.,) David Cicilline (D-R.I.,) Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.,) Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.,) Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.) are among those who support UAFA.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy a few days later announced he reintroduced UAFA in his chamber with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) as a co-sponsor.

Nadler acknowledged to the Blade on Monday “it appears unlikely that the Senate’s initial immigration text” will include LGBT-specific language.

“This is disappointing but not particularly surprising,” he said.

Tiven said she remains hopeful members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will revisit the issue once they begin to debate the “Gang of 8” bill.

“We expect and we hope that senators on the committee will allow a full and open amendment process that provides an opportunity to fix the flaws in the base bill of which the exclusion of Uniting American Families Act is one,” she said.

Nadler took a similar tone as he expressed Leahy’s efforts to include UAFA as an amendment to the bill in committee before it reaches the Senate floor.

“I will fight like hell to ensure that LGBT-inclusive language remains in any House and Senate conference report,” Nadler told the Blade. “The ultimate goal is, of course, not how we pass LGBT-inclusive immigration reform, but that we make certain that such a bill lands on the president’s desk.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael


  • Remember Rachel Tiven circa 2009 – momentum from UAFA hearings? I told you all at Immigration Equality that this would happen. I have the articles to prove it! And the e-mails! And the comments that you refused to allow on your site. I told you that if you took the CIR route instead of going all out on UAFA as a stand alone Biol all those years ago, during the lame duck, that gays would be thrown under the bus? I was right! I would not be rubbing your faces in it if it were not for DOMA’s impending doom!

    I wrote about it endlessly as a failed strategy and no one would listen. Immigration Equality, the self serving organization that has done nothing to help gay binational couples and even gay refugees. IE is a glorified referral service and nothing more. It is officially a failed organization for binationals and thank G-d we can now depend on DOMA. Thanks for nothing Rachel Tiven. And to HRC and all those who allowed IE to take control. Your strategy failed and you were warned. Hope you enjoyed the fundraising on the backs of others who did all the work – those who at least did something to take risks, when you said you could NOT and it could not be done!

    • Brian

      It’s my understanding Emma that as long as the marriage is legal in the place it was performed (not civil unions, or simply being together) that immigration will see those as legal marriages just as a heterosexual bi-national marriage. This is assuming that Section 3 of DOMA is found unconstitutional. So basically, if you can’t marry the person legally in your or thier country then it won’t be recognized.

  • Have you ever wondered how you could help those who are less fortunate than you?

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  • Robert samija

    I am a gay man in bi national relationship
    Used to donate and raise money for ie
    All I can say that after momentum was lost in 2009
    I realized that ie was taking us nowhere so I moved out to be with my partner

    IE and its leadership really thrown us under the bus

  • Marc Paige

    Every time I think the Republicans, maybe, are changing, they prove once again that they are the party of bigotry!

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