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Prominent House Dem: "Madness" To Pass Immigration Reform Without LGBT Protections

"I feel certain that Democrats would not move forward with a bill that was not fully inclusive," Nadler says. Pressure mounts on Democrats.

Posted on January 28, 2013, at 6:23 p.m. ET


WASHINGTON — The leading House advocate for same-sex couples' immigration rights, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, said Monday evening that it would be "madness" to advance immigration reform that did not include protections for same-sex couples, adding "I feel certain that Democrats would not move forward with a bill that was not fully inclusive."

The strong statement in support of LGBT inclusion followed Sen. John McCain's comments earlier Monday suggesting that senators proposing a framework for immigration reform had not yet discussed the issue, saying only, "We'll be working out those details."

Calling the absence of specific mention of LGBT immigration issues in the Senate framework a "major omission," Nadler, D-NY, told BuzzFeed, "My bill to provide equal immigration rights for the LGBT community – the Uniting American Families Act – has been part of most Democratic immigration proposals in recent years, and... I fully expect UAFA to be included in actual legislation."

He did praise the movement in the Senate, however, noting, "I'm very pleased that the Senators have taken an important step toward comprehensive immigration reform, which almost everyone agrees is an absolute necessity. The framework contains critical provisions, including creating a pathway to citizenship and streamlining the immigration bureaucracy."

Of the same-sex couples' provision, though, Nadler said, "I will certainly do everything in my power to ensure that that happens. LGBT immigration rights are, after all, now supported by a broad array of legislators from all quarters of Congress and from both parties." LGBT organizations earlier Monday had urged for LGBT inclusion in immigration reform legislation.

Nadler's confidence is not shared by all Democrats. One Democratic House aide told BuzzFeed, "We anticipate that it's an area that House Democrats will continue to advocate for," but added that it is difficult to predict the trajectory of the debate with a bill not yet crafted. The aide added that the issue of LGBT protections, particularly given the role they played in House Republican opposition to the Violence Against Women Act last year, "hasn't escaped notice."

Rebecca Berg contributed reporting to this article.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.