Recent comments from the Senate sponsor of comprehensive immigration reform legislation could indicate an opportunity for passage of a measure to protect bi-national same-sex couples in the United States by the end of this year.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) was quoted in USA Today on Monday as saying the White House is willing to consider comprehensive immigration reform legislation as part of the agenda for the lame duck session of Congress.
The legislation contains language similar to the Uniting American Families Act, which would enable LGBT Americans to sponsor their foreign same-sex partners for residency in the United States. An estimated 36,000 same-sex bi-national couples would be affected by the legislation.
“The White House is ready and willing, and we may be having another meeting with the White House very soon this week,” Menendez was quoted as saying.
Menendez reportedly said President Obama is willing to move forward “if there is bipartisan support” for comprehensive immigration reform.
Steve Ralls, spokesperson for Immigration Equality, said his organization plans to stand with Menendez to press for comprehensive immigration reform legislation before lawmakers adjourn at the end of the year.
“There’s a very short window of opportunity, but immigration reform is something that the White House has said would be a priority for them, that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other key leaders have said that they want to get done,” Ralls said.
Ralls noted that passage of the legislation would mark the first instance of recognition of LGBT families in federal law.
“This is an urgent issue for our community,” Ralls said. “Whether you’re in a bi-national family or not, this is also a real opportunity for Congress to provide federal recognition of LGBT families, which we’ve never had before.”