GOP senators wary of LGBT protections in immigration reform

Protecting binational same-sex couples would make it "harder to get it done," said Marco Rubio

By Jillian Rayfield

Published February 6, 2013 6:29PM (EST)

Republican members of the "Gang of Eight," the bipartisan group of senators who rolled out an immigration reform framework last week, have thrown cold water on the prospect of including protections for same-sex binational couples in the legislation.

The most recent skepticism comes from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who said at a BuzzFeed Brews panel: "I think if that issue becomes a central issue in the debate it's going to become harder to get it done because there will be strong feelings on both sides."

He added that the lawmakers "haven't really discussed the pros and the cons of it" yet, but "I imagine that issue will eventually be confronted."

President Obama, who made his own immigration reform roll-out last week, said that he supports extending the same right to legally married binational same-sex couples, currently prevented by DOMA, for spouses to file for a green card for their partner.

Last week, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also expressed reservations about the proposal, which he painted as a non-starter for immigration reform. "Which is more important: LGBT or border security?" he said at a Politico event. "I'll tell you what my priorities are. If you're going to load it up with social issues, that is the best way to derail it, in my view."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., agreed that including the provision would essentially kill any legislation: "Why don't we just put legalized abortion in there and round it all out."

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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