Sen. Patrick Leahy on Wednesday withdrew an amendment he proposed to the comprehensive immigration reform bill being marked up in the Senate that would have afforded married gay couples the same immigration status rights as straight married couples. He did so because Republicans threatened to blow the whole thing up if they dared to treat gay people as actual human beings with equal rights.
Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, offered the amendment a half-hour earlier, saying, “I don’t want to be the senator who asks Americans to choose between the love of their life and the love of their country.”
He added, “Discriminating against people based on who they love is a travesty,” noting that he wanted to hear from members of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators about why they didn’t include protections for gay couples in the initial bill.
Sen. Lindsey Graham went first, saying he opposed the inclusion of gay couples’ protections in the bill, despite noting his respect for Leahy’s “passion” is support of marriage equality.
“If you redefine marriage for immigration purposes [by the amendment], the bill would fall apart because the coalition would fall apart,” Graham said. “It would be a bridge too far.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein cited Graham’s comments, then, saying of Leahy’s amendment, “I think this sounds like the fairest approach, but here’s the problem … we know this is going to blow the agreement apart. I don’t want to blow this bill apart.”
So they were able to continue to enshrine discrimination in the law merely by threatening to kill a much larger bill. They say politics is the art of the possible; in this case, it’s the art of the despicable.