Democrats Seek Obama's Help on Gay Partners in Immigration Bill

Thursday, 16 May 2013 11:44 PM

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Senate Democrats, finding themselves caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to addressing the issue of gay rights under immigration reform, are calling on President Obama for help, Politico reports.

They’re growing more and more uneasy about risking Republican support but would rather not be forced to tell gay rights advocates that an amendment granting American citizens the right to seek green cards for their same-sex foreign partners may not get a vote in the Judiciary Committee.

After purposely keeping the White House out of the fray, some key Democrats are privately in favor of Obama’s involvement.

They want him to request Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the biggest backer of the measure, to hold off on offering the amendment until the floor debate, where it most likely would not pass.

“He is working behind the scenes,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said, when asked whether Democrats wanted Obama to get involved.

“Obviously, it is Sen. Leahy’s call.”

Leahy said he spoke with Obama on Wednesday, but the issue didn’t come up.

“I am the most senior member of the Senate; I’m an experienced chairman,” Leahy said,

“He’s happy I’m handling immigration.

He hasn’t suggested whether I should or shouldn’t do it because he knows I’ll make up my own mind.”

If key Republican backers of the bipartisan immigration bill, such as Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, turn their backs on the legislation, which they have insisted they will, that move could basically cripple any prospects of passage.

It remains to be seen if fears of GOP defections would prompt Obama to meet with Leahy before the Judiciary Committee finishes the drafting process next week.

Administration officials see the immigration bill as a realistic achievement and may want it now more than ever to prove Obama’s second term hasn’t been brought to a halt by a series of scandals.

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