- (Photo : Reuters)
Despite threats from several Democrats in the Senate that forced him to withdraw an amendment that would allow gay couples to sponsor green cards for their foreign partners last month, Sen. Patrick Leahy decided to file it anyhow to the Gang of Eight immigration bill on Tuesday.
The Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman had withdrawn the amendment during the markup of the bill last month after a contentious debate during which Republicans said they wouldn't have it and Democrats threatened to oppose the measure if it threatened the overall passage of the bill.
"You've got me on immigration. You don't have me on marriage. If you want to keep me on immigration, let's stay on immigration," Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), one of the gang of eight, said during the debate over the amendment .
"As much as it pains me, I cannot support this amendment if it will bring down the bill," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), another gang of eight member had also stated.
And with that, Leahy decided to withdraw the amendment.
"I take the Republican sponsors of this important legislation at their word that they will abandon their own efforts if discrimination is removed from our immigration system," he had said. "So, with a heavy heart, and as a result of my conclusion that Republicans will kill this vital legislation if this anti-discrimination amendment is added, I will withhold calling for a vote on it. But I will continue to fight for equality."
On Tuesday, Leahy kept his promise to carry on the fight when he filed the amendment, according to a POLITICO report, charging that it is the right thing to do.
"Seeking equal protection under our laws for the LGBT community is the right thing to do," he said in a statement. "I withheld my anti-discrimination amendment during the Senate Judiciary Committee markup. As the entire Senate turns to debate the immigration bill, the fight for equality must go on."
It is uncertain if Leahy's amendment will get a vote, according to the report, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have yet to reach an agreement on amendments.
The amendment also appears to face a tougher chance at passing in this scenario as well. Whereas it would have only required a simple majority to pass in the committee, it will likely require 60 votes to pass on the Senate floor.
A Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act expected later this month, however, could enable gay couples to petition green cards for their foreign partners.