Patrick Leahy: Uniting American Families Act Would Restore 'Basic Human Right'

Huffington Post
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February 14, 2013
Issues: 

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) will reintroduce the Uniting American Families Act on Wednesday, increasing the pressure to include equal treatment for same-sex couples in immigration reform.

"Too many citizens, including Vermonters who I have come to know personally and who want nothing more than to be with their loved ones, are denied this basic human right," Leahy said at a Judiciary Committee hearing. "This policy serves no legitimate purpose and is wrong."

House members reintroduced the bill earlier this month, also with bipartisan support -- albeit many more Democrats than Republicans -- and it is expected to be more of an effort to bring light to the issue for comprehensive reform than to be passed as a separate law.

The bill would allow same-sex couples to be treated in the same way as heterosexual ones under immigration law, permitting them to petition for green cards for partners and spouses. Under the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages that are legal on the state-level. That leads to many couples being separated by immigration law or American citizens being forced to leave the country if they want to be with their partner.