Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — one of the architects of the bipartisan Senate plan to reform the immigration system — told CBS on Tuesday morning that including binational gay and lesbian couples whose relationships are currently not recognized by the federal government in the proposed legalization process is a “red flag” that is “not of paramount importance.”
Responding to a BuzzFeed report that President Obama will incorporate same-sex couples with one American citizen and one foreign partner in the administration’s principles for reform, McCain promised to consider the amendment and “gauge how the majority of Congress feels.” “We need to get broad consensus over on our proposal to start with,” McCain added, “and there are a number of very difficult issues we have to resolve.” Watch it:
During a conference call with LGBT groups on Sunday afternoon, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) claimed that the inclusive LGBT language was not included due to Republican opposition, but added that Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy (D-VT) “will offer an amendment in his committee to protect gay couples.”
In a statement released on Monday, Immigration Equality — the group lobbying on behalf of the measure — expressed disappointment that it was left out of the Senate principles and promised to “work non-stop to make sure our families are part of comprehensive immigration reform legislation when it is introduced.” There are “at least 28,500 same-sex couples in the United States in which one partner is a U.S. citizen and the other is not, and 11,500 same-sex couples where neither partner is a U.S. citizen,” the Williams Institute estimates.
Addressing another sticking point — the role a new commission of Southwest governors and lawmakers will play in approving security along the border and triggering the pathway to legalization– McCain said that border state governors and other experts “will make recommendations” but “the final decision will be made by the Secretary of Homeland Security.” The answer pits McCain against Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), another sponsor of the immigration framework, who wants to beef up the role of the commission.