Last night, many of us watched the Senate Judiciary hearings on immigration reform with a heavy heart ...
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was forced to withhold critical amendments that would have added protections for same-sex binational couples due to lack of support from his own party.
We needed all the Democrats on the committee to support these amendments. Unfortunately, Senators Schumer, Feinstein, Durbin and Franken sided with eight Republicans to ensure that the immigration bill moving forward is not inclusive, is not comprehensive and will discriminate against legally married gay and lesbian Americans with foreign spouses.
The Democrats who sided with the Republicans - Schumer, Feinstein, Durbin and Franken have betrayed the very LGBT constituencies who have supported them throughout their political careers. It is questionable whether any of them would be in power today without our votes. Each of these leaders talks about marriage equality and ending discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans, but last night, when they had the chance to show they meant what they said, they failed the LGBT community and all Americans who believe in equality and fairness.
We thank Senator Leahy for his courage in this uphill battle against bigotry and politicians like the Senators named above, along with Senators Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, Jeff Flake and John McCain, who insisted that the inclusion of mere 36,000 people would derail a bill that offers so much hope to more than 11 million.
Please take a minute to thank Senator Leahy for being a true hero and for having the courage of his convictions.
Call or tweet him today at 202-224-4242; Twitter: @SenatorLeahy
We also thank our allies in the LGBT, faith and immigrant rights' communities who have stood with us over the years, and especially during this fight for our inclusion in the bill. We could not have brought our issue so far, so fast without your help.
The question, of course, on all our minds is - what next?
We are heartened, empowered and emboldened by these images that collectively sum up our work over the years - and we will continue to look to them for strength in the coming weeks.
Just last week, a small army of our volunteers here in the San Francisco Bay Area came to San Francisco City Hall to tell their stories of how immigration discrimination and marriage inequality has impacted their lives. We then rushed downtown to Senator Feinstein's office to hand deliver a petition with more than 6,000 signatures urging her to support the Leahy amendments.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Since the beginning of Out4Immigration, we have urged couples to tell their stories. We have collected hundreds of stories over the years. In the last few weeks we have been circulating these 24 stories we have collected since President Obama promised us in Las Vegas in January that we would be part of immigration reform. Each story we collect has a photo. For every image there is another harrowing tale of discrimination, denial, financial hardship, career loss, separation, exile and decisions no American should have to make. And, yet each story is filled the remarkable love of two people who remain committed to one another against all odds. Each story hangs onto what each couple has left of hope that we will soon live in a world where equality trumps bigotry and hate.
“I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living."
- Harvey Milk.
Two years ago, a group of us worked with Brynn Gelbard and the DeVote Campaign to make a video talking about the lack of immigration rights and DOMA. This was shortly after President Obama had declared DOMA unconstitutional, but before he had announced his support of marriage equality. It was at a time when same-sex marriages were only legal in a handful of states and same-sex binational couples were often told not to get married because it could jeopardize our immigration status. While we still wait for justice, much has happened in our favor in the past two years.
Of most significance: At the time this video was shot, just one couple was legally married. Today – everyone you see in this video is legally married and ready to take part in equal immigration rights, whether they come from our legislative, executive and/or judicial branch of government.
“The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall
never die.” - Sen. Edward Kennedy.