Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) warned his fellow Republicans today that a failure in passing comprehensive immigration legislation and a continuance of the Hispanic defection that arguably cost them the 2012 presidential elections, could lead to more losses for the GOP in the future.
But his remarks regarding the inclusion of same-sex immigrant couples — and LGBT rights in general — could themselves lead to more election losses for the GOP in the coming years.
According to McCain, allowing same-sex immigrant couples the same treatment as opposite-sex couples — in a country that prides itself for its equality for all, mind you — is “something that frankly is not of paramount importance at this time … that to me is a red flag that frankly we will address in time.”
This was a response the Obama administration’s statement that made it clear that a reform proposed by the administration would consider same-sex marriages a reason not to start deportation proceedings.
While the GOP may be trying to show a softer and more approachable side to the Hispanic demographic, which is clearly a large concern of his as states such as his own continue to see growing Hispanic population, McCain is further repelling the LGBT population, estimated at 4 million in 2011, away from the Republican Party.
As of right now, U.S. immigration policy is largely based on the principle of family unification, and allows permanent residents to sponsor their spouses and other family relatives for that reason. However, same-sex partners are not legally acknowledged as “spouses” and often live in fear of being separated.
According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA, there are currently at least 28,500 same-sex couples in the U.S. in which one partner is a U.S. citizen and the other is not; and there are another 11,500 same-sex couples where neither partner is a U.S. citizen.
Although President Barack Obama is been the first U.S. president to endorse same-sex marriage and issue a policy that allows for delays in deportation for lesbian and gay couples in America, the U.S. would certainly not be the first country to recognize same-sex marriage for immigration purposes.
In fact, 15 countries recognize the LGBT community when it comes to immigration; one of the most “democratic” and “progressive” nations — the U.S. — is not one of them.
McCain has said that although the eight-member bipartisan group comprised of four Democrats and four Republicans released a framework for immigration reform on Monday, they have yet to formally discuss the issue.
"I'll be glad to talk about it, discuss what the ramifications are and all of that, but if somebody views that as the most important aspect of comprehensive immigration reform then we just have a fundamental disagreement," McCain said.
There may be still a sliver of hope for the bi-national gay couples yet (although I can’t say that same for the GOP). During a conference call with LGBT groups, senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Dick Durbin, (D-Ill.) said that although gay couples were not included in this framework due to Republican opposition, Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) will “will offer an amendment in his committee to protect gay couples.”