President Obama: Including gay couples in immigration bill is ‘the right thing to do’
US President Barack Obama has said that he thinks recognising gay couples in a broad immigration bill currently pending in Congress is “the right thing to do”.
The President did not specify whether or not he would sign legislation, if it failed to protect binational gay couples. He said it would be premature to predict what he would do until he is sent a bill by lawmakers.
Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Obama commented that it was the “right thing to do”, to include gay couples in the legislation, reports the Associated Press.
Currently, straight couples can sponsor their foreign-born spouses to obtain green cards, however there is no equivalent option for binational same-sex couples.
LGBT organisations are pushing for an amendment to be added to allow gay people to have the same rights.
Advocates of adding gay couples to the key bill, estimate that around 36,000 couples already live in the US who are not able to obtain the necessary green card, with more living abroad because they cannot obtain the visa.
Plans laid out by President Barack Obama for immigration reform in January, included provisions for recognising same-sex families from different countries, and allowing visas for same-sex couples wishing to live in the US.
Some lawmakers have expressed fears that including same-sex couples in the groundbreaking legislation could throw the bill, which is being pushed forward by a bipartisan effort, off course.
Republicans, including some who helped draft the bill, have expressed a fear that including same-sex couples would alienate Hispanic voters and religious groups, who have expressed opposition to binational couples being granted green cards.
Back in February, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy proposed a separate bill which would allow US citizens to sponsor their same-sex partners for residency visas, however advocates recognised that the bill was unlikely to pass in the Republican controlled US House on its own, rather than being included in the larger, more comprehensive bill.