Dear gays, immigration reform is only for “valuable” constituencies – you’re not

Irwin de Leon, a research associate with the Urban Institute, thinks gays aren’t “important” or “valuable” enough to merit being included in the immigration reform bill that’s supposedly “comprehensive,” yet looking more and more like a bill tailored to help one community’s immigrants, and not another’s.

I’ve written about the problem gay binational couples face – where one same-sex partner is American, the other is a foreign citizen, and how under US law even if they’re legally married the foreigner can’t remain in the US. There’s legislation to fix this called UAFA, but Senate Democrats acceded to Republican demands to dump it, and now we’re scrambling to get it back into the immigration reform bill.

All the while, Republicans like Marco Rubio and the pedophile-enablers over at the Catholic Church are throwing around empty threats about torpedoing the entire immigration bill if it addresses the immigration needs of gay Americans in addition to Latinos.  (Rubio is trying to woo the Latino vote for his 2016 presidential run, and knows he won’t get the gay vote.  So for Rubio, this bill is a two-fer: buy the Latino vote and bash the gays.)

Here’s de Leon lecturing gays about how their relevant importance and value makes it unnecessary for the immigration bill to actually address the immigration concerns of all Americans:

President Obama is spot on in that not everyone will be happy. Should a final bill pass, it is very possible that gay bi-national couples will not be part of it. Fact is, compromises are made and deals brokered whenever legislation is crafted. Moreover, some constituencies are more valuable than others. In this situation, the LGBT lobby will not prevail as there are far more important players to please and the “greater good” to consider.

Fact is, Irwin, Latino groups asked gays to sign on to this bill, and we did.  Our top groups are spending gay money, that’s supposed to be spent to further gay rights, but instead is being spent to help a “more valuable” constituency that doesn’t think we’re an “important” enough “player.”  Funny, we sure seemed important when you asked our groups to come on board, and when an immigration rights leader took over Get Equal and started using that LGBT group to push for an immigration bill that specifically excludes the very people those groups were formed to fight for.

As for “some constituencies are more valuable than others,” someone apparently needs to read more Orwell.

Gay immigration via Shutterstock.

Gay immigration via Shutterstock.

And you talk about the “greater good.” Whose greater good, exactly?  It sounds like you’re talking about the Latino greater good.  That is after all, the overwhelming majority of who this bill is geared towards helping.  And I’m fine with helping Latino immigrants, but if this is going to be pork legislation, and not comprehensive immigration reform, then let’s just admit that up front and stop the charade of pretending that this is some kind of reasonable “reform” to our immigration system, when it’s really about helping a single “constituency” that is more “valuable” than blacks and gays.

And finally, as for gays not being “important” enough players to merit inclusion in the bill, immigration supporters are lucky gay rights advocates aren’t handcuffing themselves to the headquarters of every Latino group in town. Because when you start talking about how unimportant gay people are, and how some constituencies are more valuable than others, I hear a challenge.

I hear someone suggesting that the gay community doesn’t know how to cause as much trouble for Democrats as Latinos do.

And honey, once the gay community finds out that the reason we’re being thrown under the bus in immigration reform is because immigration advocates think we aren’t as “valuable” as Latinos, you won’t know what hit you.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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63 Responses to “Dear gays, immigration reform is only for “valuable” constituencies – you’re not”

  1. ronbo says:

    Karmanot is accurate. What you fail to understand (choose to ignore) is that labor-intensive jobs are generally low-paying and not attractive to most Americans. There is a natural pull between such jobs and undocumented workers.
    P.S. Is it bigotry to point-out that you are an ass?

  2. Skeptical Cicada says:

    As long as the vicious bigotry of the Catholic Church toward gays continues, we will continue to highlight the true fact of the Church’s enabling of child rape on a global scale.
    Go lecture your local archbigot. Claiming to support marriage equality gives you no permission to lord over gays.

  3. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Not according to experts in pedophilia, but bigots like you think so.

  4. Skeptical Cicada says:

    No, what you have done is imbibe the political homophobia of the Democratic Party and its arrogant and demeaning treatment of gays. Describing gays as less “valuable” is standard political homophobia and is profoundly offensive. No one demeans Jewish Democrats that way, and you will not demean gays that way, no matter what personal identity you disgustingly exploit in the cause of marginalizing gays. Without the work of those 1 in 5 Obama bundlers who were gay, there wouldn’t be the resources to drag some of your preferred constituencies to the polls, but by all means, spit in the faces of gay Democrats. It’s what straight and collaborationist gays do. It is by no means certain that a bill that includes bi-national gay couples cannot pass. What is certain is that tossing those couples into a new draconian enforcement regime without the protection of UAFA will be disastrous for them. It is not merely leaving them out, it is a brutal attack on them, leading to self-deportation or self-divorce. What is also certain is that the bill will not protect them from harm if no one fights to include them, you loathsome collaborationist. And I’ll tell you who is more valuable than whom, since you put it in those offensive terms. Loyal and law-abiding gay Americans are more valuable than foreigners who abandoned one country and forced their way illegally into this one. Shall we continue discussing who is and who is not valuable to whom? Because it will be an attack on bi-national gay couples and the loyal and law-abiding gay Americans who are part of those couples, I will certainly do everything I can to kill any “comprehensive” bill that does not include UAFA. And homophobic rhetoric from sellouts like you only makes me more willing to fight. Congratulations. Now go stab some other group in the back for a while.

  5. Just a couple of things. First, I need to point out that I wrote that piece as a private citizen and not as a representative of the Urban Institute. And more importantly, I am well aware that Latino, Asian American, LGBT, Labor, and other progressive groups are supportive of gay binational couples. As a matter-of-fact, I am the foreign-born spouse of such a couple. I was simply pointing out the political reality that gay binational couples will not be part of the final bill. It was meant to convey a sense of detached irony — and, unfortunately, reality of the situation.

  6. Paul says:

    Karmanot, you’re such a flipping tool. You call Jay a racist in the same paragraph as you say that Mexicans are only taking our field hand jobs. What it must be like to live in your tiny, insignificant mind.

  7. Paul says:

    “Pedophile enablers at the Catholic Church”

    You know, I 100% support gay marriage and adding the bi-national gay couples to this bill, but my god you liberals are infuriatingly hypocritical with your unabashed bigotry of everything that does not conform to your ideas. Is this how you reach across party lines?

  8. karmanot says:

    Great idea—go viral—

  9. karmanot says:

    We live in a world where snark is true. Sigh,,,,,,,

  10. BeccaM says:


  11. BeccaM says:

    I know, dear. Both of my closing questions were rhetorical.

  12. Drew2u says:

    Can you and your husband do a YouTube video?

  13. karmanot says:

    You go Tom, and good luck. You have more supporters than you might imagine.

  14. karmanot says:

    “Do the Dems care so little about doing the right thing?” Yes

  15. karmanot says:

    Yadda, yadda. Nobody is for unlimited access. “seeking jobs at expense of Americans” I have yet to see any white faces doing stoop labor in the fields of California. Your repeat of this tired old canard is as blatant as your racism. Waving your gay flag is not going to work. “I believe in across the board FAIR immigration policies.” On this we agree.

  16. TomTO says:

    Yes, I do. Right here.

  17. JayRandal says:

    I am NOT for open borders allowing unlimited access for illegals to cross into US seeking jobs at expense of Americans. NOT a screed about anything. Republicans
    claim they want border security but really want low wage laborers crossing into US.
    I believe in across the board FAIR immigration policies but NOT favoritism for Latinos/
    Hispanics only. Whomever comes to US must be identified thus properly processed.
    Being GAY myself I am against sexual orientation discrimination.

  18. karmanot says:

    Very like! But, don’t expect anything resembling justice from a dinosaur like Leahy.

  19. BeccaM says:

    True, you have a good point there. All I was saying above is the current status quo is the states don’t (currently) have a blank check to ignore laws passed by other states or the feds. It is true though that reciprocity has been eroded quite a lot since the mid 90s, with DOMA leading the way.

  20. karmanot says:

    Certainly applies to fascism, oh smart ass.

  21. BeccaM says:

    Yes, it’s awful and unjust. What we’re asking for isn’t even a guarantee of residency or citizenship for foreign-born spouses of gay and lesbian citizens. Just parity with the heterosexuals, which is simply the right to apply. These spouses would have to jump through all of the same hoops, pass the same checks and tests, pay the same fees.

    What I simply don’t understand is how something this limited in the cosmic scheme of things, yet so very important to a small number of American citizens, is deemed disposable by the Dems and unacceptable to the point of scuttling an entire bill for the GOPers.

    Do the Dems care so little about doing the right thing? And do the Republicans truly hate gay people that much?

  22. karmanot says:

    Oh for Christ’s sake!

  23. karmanot says:

    Destroy the blue dogs and the Obozo machine!

  24. karmanot says:

    “Don’t you?” simple answer, ‘No.’ —–Twelve monkeys, ten fingers, so little time.

  25. karmanot says:

    You were doing just fine until that last screed bud.

  26. Naja pallida says:

    All they’re saying with that tired old line is that we have a Constitution which sets out who gets to vote, instead of a straight majority takes all representation. They seem to think it implies something secret that Liberals can’t possibly understand, though.

  27. JayRandal says:

    Catholic Church leadership should stay out of discourse on immigration because of hypocrisy of clergy

    having proclivities of molesting children. Catholic clergy have ZERO moral standing to condemn Gays.
    Latino/Hispanic Catholics are in denial of homosexuality among themselves too. Whenever I have gone to Gay clubs anywhere in US lots of Latinos/Hispanics there looking for sex. Sen. Rubio before married
    to a woman owned a house with another male living together. He is bisexual hypocrite of the worst kind. Shame on him.

  28. FLL says:

    A certain Huffpo article caught my eye: “Red-State Democrats Buck Obama On Social Security Cuts.” (Here’s the link.) From the article:

    “The majority of Senate Democrats running for reelection in 2014, including three running in red states, have broken with President Barack Obama and are opposing his effort to cut Social Security benefits, imperiling the austerity project known as the ‘grand bargain’…
    A HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted last December found that only 16 percent of Americans said the proposal to switch to chained CPI was a good idea, while 54 percent said it was a bad idea. The proposal was unpopular across the political spectrum, with 56 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of independents saying they thought it was a bad idea.”

    Now why shouldn’t Democratic senators (especially those running for reelection) take a public stand on the inclusion of same-sex binational couples in an immigration bill, which would have much more practical effect than the huge amount of Democratic senators (almost all of them) who have made recent public statement in support of marriage equality? If they’re willing to buck the Republicans and the White House on chained cpi, why not on a fair immigration bill? Time to throw the kitchen sink at Democratic senators (and later House members) who don’t support immigration equality.

  29. Randy says:

    I guess he is thinking that no latinos are gay.

  30. JayRandal says:

    Any immigration bill that excludes certain people because of sexual orientation would be discrimination.
    Enactment of any bill just to favor a tailored ethnic immigrant minority group alas discrimination against everybody else. Appears Congress wanting strictly heterosexual Latino immigrants favored. Really seems to be immigration bill to bring in laborers without encumbrances for borderline indentured slavery. GOPers in particular think Gays apparently are not hard workers. Anyway my belief is that
    our country has to treat all immigrants on same parity for admission. No special favors for anybody.

    Mexican border has to be fully secured for security reasons. Nobody should be allowed to come across it without being properly identified and documented. This country has to take care of its population first
    before favoring any immigrants. Many Americans are unemployed while illegals given jobs instead. USA has to utilize its citizenry before any others.

  31. TomTO says:

    The very first section of this bill should have been how to give access to American citizens who currently do not have access to US immigration, then the non citizens get their share. I still cannot believe Dems and Reps are going to give non citizens more rights than every single LGBT American citizen. And we have allies supporting this insanity and telling us to shut up. Just another day in the USA.

  32. FLL says:

    No better year to make that clear than 2013. This should be the year of “throw the kitchen sink at it.”

  33. BeccaM says:

    We need to teach the Dems that their reflexive hippie-punching will cost them elections.

  34. “pedophile-enablers over at the Catholic Church”
    Aren’t these pedophile priest men? who most likely have mostly molested boys, boys who in turn are also men, ergo these pedophiles are Gay, possibly Bi, but mostly Gay? So why not ammend your comment above to clarify that these pedofiles are gay?
    Gay/ Bisexual pedophile-enablers over at the Catholic Church, I think that is a more accurate description, don’t you?

  35. Naja pallida says:

    Since when has not having the right stopped the regressives from wanting to claw us backward? This last 13 years have been all about Republicans getting control of state legislatures, and rolling back rights and established law most people thought was settled decades ago.

  36. FLL says:

    What you’re suggesting is certainly a possibility. Sounds like a very messy second term, which is not the look you’re going for if you want a shiny “legacy” that will generate lots of lucrative future speaking engagements. (The Vietnam War sure destroyed LBJ’s legacy mode.) You and I both know that same-sex binational couples and their supporters won’t take a bigoted immigration bill lying down. I can see the possibility of “Obama’s chickens coming home to roost.” Messy is not necessarily bad and doesn’t preclude a progressive candidate winning in 2016. I know this sounds a bit oblivious to strict ethical principle, but with Romney safely out of the way, I’m rather partial to messy.

  37. BeccaM says:

    I’ve considered that, but DADT repeal was a standalone measure — and even that final result was fraught with built-in flaws, such as the lack of anti-discrimination language and an utterly unnecessary nearly year-long wait for implementation. If this was about UAFA itself coming up for a possible vote, I might see more parallels, but here we have a bill with apparent bipartisan backing — a train, if you will, that is already leaving the station, and we can’t even get our one small issue on-board, the door blocked by the Dems themselves.

    As near as I can tell with this, UAFA was discarded very early on and, as I remarked the other day, the language out of the White House is startlingly similar to the way they talked about drug importation and the public insurance option in PPACA. “Nice to have, but not essential to passage.”

    We don’t even have a seat at the table anymore in this immigration reform bill. All they’re arguing about now is how nasty to make it to Latino would-be immigrants and how to make it as business-friendly as possible.

  38. KingCranky says:

    How Irwin de Leon would have pressed for passage of the Civil Rights Act……

    “Sure this legislation is important, but it will never pass if interracial marriage is allowed, so we have to think of the Greater Good”.

  39. FLL says:

    The omission of UAFA in the subcommittee was, exactly as you put it, appallingly wrong. It was not just wrong, but worthy of direct action—as in people chaining themselves to the White House fence and sit-ins at the offices of senators. The only point you’ve made that I wonder about is whether a bigoted immigration bill is a done deal because UAFA wasn’t included in the subcommittee. I just can’t help but remember the glory days of 2010 when the legislative path to DADT repeal took all of those torturous twists and turns, and finally got squeezed in during a frantic lame-duck Congress. There are more possibilities than you may think. The whole immigration reform bill could stall this year and get postponed until after the midterms. Stranger things have happened, and unexpected things are more likely to happen when people are chained to the White House fence… if I remember correctly.

  40. BeccaM says:

    The immigration bill came out of that subcommittee without the bi-national gay/lesbian UAFA fix. At that point, it should have been clear to any with a pair of neurons to rub together that any subsequent amendment vote to put it back in would be doomed to failure — and done only so that the Dems who wished to do so could be on record as being supportive of gay rights, without actually accomplishing anything to advance them.

    It’s appallingly wrong — morally and ethically — to have a bill that offers amnesty and a path to citizenship for those who have been breaking the law by being in this country illegally while ignoring the gross injustice of forcing law-abiding American gay and lesbian citizens with foreign spouses to choose between divorce or exile.

    As John pointed out the other day, there was only one thing we wanted. A fair law that allows gay and lesbian Americans to sponsor permanent residency and citizenship for their foreign-born spouses. One small right recovered from the 1100+ federal rights and privileges denied us.

    And our supposed allies failed us again. Worse, they’re criticizing us for being unhappy about it. As I wrote the other day, they’ve thrown us under the bus, again, and are annoyed that we won’t say thanks and pay for the gas to fuel it.

    I hope the LGBT community remembers this when the DNC and Democratic party come around with hat in hand as they always do, asking for donations, votes, and support. To them, we are an inconvenience, casually disposed of and ignored. The GOP issues an empty threat to scuttle an entire immigration bill if we’re given a sliver of justice — and the Dems say, “Okay, done. It’s out. They didn’t really matter anyway.”

  41. FLL says:

    I’d like to think that the Supreme Court wouldn’t do something as wildly irrational as ignoring the developments in civil rights law from the 50s and 60s and reverting back to the rational of the 30s, but after Bowers v. Hardwick (1986)—and especially Bush v. Gore (2000)—nothing would surprise me. I still think it would be much more reasonable for the Supreme Court to take into account the progress of the last half century and instruct the federal government to recognize a marriage for immigration purposes if it was valid in the state where it was celebrated.

  42. BeccaM says:

    Subsequent rulings in the 50s and 60s made it clear that when it came to civil rights, states did NOT have the right to ignore anti-discrimination laws. To take one example, in Loving v. Virginia, they ruled rather decisively that Virginia didn’t have a right to refuse to recognize interracial marriages.

  43. woodroad34 says:

    Well, that is until they need our money….hmmmm, money or possible quantity of voters? Gonna lose both if gays aren’t part of the immigration equation.

  44. FLL says:

    Irwin de Leon is employed by the Urban Institute, which is not a Latino group, but rather a non-partisan Washington think tank (perhaps a think tank only in their own estimation). I’d be curious to hear an opinion from some of the Latino groups that initially asked for support from gay groups concerning the immigration bill. Also, John, do you have any quotes from Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez at GetEQUAL in which he says that including same-sex couples is dispensable in an immigration bill? I’d be curious to see that too. In any case, even if GetEQUAL is not up to the task anymore, there is no shortage of Americans with foreign same-sex partners who would participate in direct action, and no shortage of reporters and mainstream media outlets willing to make such protests front-page news. The New York Times and L.A. Times are guaranteed to give those protests coverage, both on their front pages and in their editorials.

    My only suggestion is to actually find out what various organizations have to say before deciding on anything. If La Raza is too hesitant to take a stand, turn up the volume until they do take a stand. If La Raza finally throws support to inclusion of same-sex couples in the immigration bill, they’re an ally. If they go the other way, by all means, get people to chain themselves to the front doors of their offices.

  45. FLL says:

    The SCOTUS ruling on DOMA may or may not moot the need to include same-sex binational couples in the immigration bill. The SCOTUS ruling could instruct the federal government to recognize a marriage for immigration purposes if that marriage was valid where it was celebrated, or SCOTUS could instruct the federal government to use a couple’s state of residence as the guideline for whether a marriage is valid. The Supreme Court can really rule any way it pleases. Much depends on the inclinations of Kennedy and Roberts, but why bother trying to read tea leaves when the SCOTUS decision is only weeks away? That reminds me. Can you tell me, S1AMER, why there is such a burning rush to draft an immigration bill with no provision for same-sex couples? I don’t think waiting six more weeks is an unreasonable request.

  46. FLL says:

    That formula could just as easily describe African-American slavery in the Antebellum South since the greater good could be defined as what’s good for the majority. What’s missing in your formulation is a Constitution with specific rights that everyone has. You wouldn’t want to forget about our Constitution now, would you?

  47. TomTO says:

    I can pay my own way. As I have for the last 11 years of being in a binational relationship. No thanks to the fence sitters for their usual lack of support.

  48. Drew2u says:

    I figured the quotes around it would read as parody of a right-winger – not my own words. (why would I quote myself? <- rhetorical)

  49. nicho says:

    Actually, it’s both. So please put that tired canard to bed.

  50. nicho says:

    No, but do go on

  51. Drew2u says:

    Got a kickstarter to fund your plane ticket & legal fees? Is Immigration Equality willing to sponsor fence-chainers?

  52. A_nonymoose says:

    If we can keep it.

  53. Drew2u says:

    “It’s a ‘Republic’, not a ‘Democracy’!”

  54. Drew2u says:

    Anyone know of a binational gay couple with at least one Hispanic or Latino partner/spouse willing to go on national cameras?

  55. James says:

    You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need

  56. Houndentenor says:

    It depends on what the ruling actually says. It’s possible that while Louisiana may not have to recognize a marriage performed in Iowa, the federal government would. That sounds like a mess, but it would help with immigration since that is a federal, not state, issue.

  57. Stev84 says:

    Getting rid of Section 2 doesn’t make a difference. SCOTUS ruled back in the 30s that a state can ignore any law from another state that conflicts with their policies. Marriages and rights that come from it still wouldn’t be portable.

    You’re also wrong about how federal benefits work. There are some laws like social security and veteran’s benefits that are idiotically restricted to the state of residence. But that’s explicitly written into the laws. In the absence of such clauses and regulations any marriage would be valid for most federal purposes. Immigration boards only check if the marriage was valid where it was celebrated. There are same-sex couples that already had hearings.

  58. Stev84 says:

    Isn’t people giving up their rights for the greater good socialism? :p

  59. TomTO says:

    The have no idea who they are fucking with. When the American half of binational couples start chaining ourselves to the White House fence and the DNC headquarters, then they will know. I volunteer to be the first one.

  60. GarySFBCN says:

    My understanding is that a ruling limited to section 3 would only allow full Federal rights to same-sex couples married in states where same-sex marriage is legal. That isn’t going to help anyone in Louisiana. For true marriage equality, all of DOMA needs to be trashed.

  61. frizbeesf says:

    Rubio thinks he can kill to birds with one stone.. woo Latinos and keep the Teabagging wingnuts happy. Here’s a flash for you Marco, you’re not white, therefore the Tea Party just isn’t all that into you when it comes to being President. A Senator sure.. heck maybe even as a Governor but President? Never gonna happen Sparky… keep dreamin’.

    What needs to happen is clear, Leahy and Durbin need to call McCain and Graham’s bluff. Put the UAFA in the bill, and then force the GOP to make the choice. Sure, you can kill the bill so you can discriminate against 240,000 Gays, but you will have to intentionally harm over 11 MILLION Latinos and Asians to do it. Let Senators Grampa Simpson and Closet Case Smithers try to sell that one back home… good luck.

    As far as the Democrats go, LGBT Inc. (HRC, GLAAD, GetEqual etc etc..) needs to quietly put the word in the ear of both the DCCC and the White House, that if they cave on this, as far as we are concerned the second term is over. The gAyTM is closed for 2014, after all we need to think about the “Greater Good” and focus on securing candidates for 2016 that aren’t spineless cowards.

  62. S1AMER says:

    Democrats are hoping SCOTUS rules against DOMA Sect. 3, thus mooting any need to do anything in an immigration bill. I hope that happens, but I’d still like to see binational same-sex couples in the bill, because that would be the right thing to do.

  63. A_nonymoose says:

    I’d call him an asshole, but that’s an insult to assholes. What exactly is it about Democracy that they don’t understand?

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