Gay and lesbian U.S. citizens and permanent residents may lose the possible inclusion in immigration reform that would allow them to apply for visas and green cards – Catholic Hispanic, and Evangelical Coalition says inclusion would be an Immigration reform deal-breaker.
By Melanie Nathan, March 08, 2013.
You would think that marginalized group would find some understanding and solicitude, at least from its own experience. That is not the case when it comes to religious extremism and fervor, as today a huge coalition of Hispanic, Evangelical and Catholic Christians, representing well over 30 million Hispanics of faith, is urging President Obama to divorce same-sex marriage issues from immigration reform. The comparatively tiny gay lobby of advocates seeking inclusion in immigration reform has a gigantic beast to contend with and if the newly formed anti-gay coalition has its way, LGBT binational partners seeking immigration equality can forget inclusion through comprehensive immigration reform and will have their own failed strategy to blame. Of course the beast was predictable.
While partnership among Protestants and Catholics is not at all new when it comes to social justice issues, such as civil rights for African-Americans, never before have conservative evangelicals joined hands with Hispanic communities of faith while also partnering with the U.S. Catholic movement. Thanks to the gay issue, they are one!
The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), the anti-gay lobby, that has more than 40,000 member churches, explained to The Christian Post that Hispanic evangelicals do not want the President or lawmakers to mix LGBT issues with immigration reform issues.
The Christian Post points out that The NHCLC (anti-gay) position is backed by Catholic Hispanics and a diverse array of evangelical leaders representing more than 150 groups, including the Southern Baptist Convention and the National Association of Evangelicals. The coalitions came together privately for the first time over a week ago in Washington, D.C., where key Hispanic evangelical leaders and key Hispanic Catholic leaders discussed common-ground issues, or what Rodriguez likes to call issues of righteousness and justice – those pertaining to protecting life and advancing immigration reform. (Christian Post.)
The NHCLC and its partners refuse to budge on allowing visas for same-sex couples, due to their biblical view on marriage. “To us, it’s an issue of redefining faith doctrines, redefining faith tenets and of course these communities already stated explicitly that they cannot support any public policy that infringes upon religious liberty or attempts to redefine the doctrines of faith,” Rodriguez explained. He expressed it would be a deal-breaker to include same-sex couples in any reform. What he does not understand is that same-sex couples do not need immigration reform, but rather they need immigration equality – and yet it would seem not even the LGBT group Immigration Equality has understood the difference.
And we suppose that including gays and binational same-sex couples as a deal-breaker, means that if Gays are included Rodriguez and gang will simply walk away from a deal that provides immigration reform to 11 million immigrants largely made up of Hispanics. Maybe someone should have the guts to call their bluff. Perhaps that someone should be Senator Chuck Schumer, a joke considering he has already sold the gays down the river.
This exclusion of gays in the context of immigration reform was a problem that I foresaw back in 2009, when the LGBT organization Immigration Equality, decided to drop advocating for The Uniting American Families Act as a stand-alone bill and hitched the issue of equality (for same-sex binational partners seeking green cards) to the issue of immigration. This was a critical mistake in strategy, now being realized for its horrendous impact on the same-sex binational community.
New York Democratic Rep. Jerold Nadler’s Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would provide the much needed remedy for binational couples, where DOMA excludes a same-gender spouse from petitioning for a greencard for a partner from a foreign country, in the same way as a heterosexual spouse can do.
The Obama administration has issued guidelines urging lawmakers to adapt UAFA in a bill on comprehensive immigration reform that also allows for a clearer path to citizenship. However a bipartisan group of Senators including Chuck Schumer, who once promised his support for gay immigration equality, now seems poised to exclude binational same-sex couples from immigration reform. That is bad enough and now we see this huge anti-gay lobby, which is adding fuel to the fire of an already impacted bipartisan group – so that even Senator Schumer is seen pandering to the likes of this anti-gay immigration lobby.
Yes it is the gays and lesbians who are seeking parity under existing laws ( they are not seeking reform but equality) yet they are the ones being thrown under the bus, while 11 million undocumented immigrants who already have equality receive reform? Is that just and fair? In other words if the anti-gay coalition gets its way, reform will happen to the exclusion of equality for gays under existing law.
This is not new to the issue, as back in 2010 the Catholic Bishop leadership represented to Congressional hearings that they would rather lose immigration reform, even for their own desperate membership, than see same-gender couples benefit from immigration reform. Yet Immigration Equality, the only LGBT organization that has a voice in D.C. on the issue, has insisted on the strategy to hitch UAFA to immigration reform and have squarely placed binational same-sex couples in this horrendous and invidious predicament, knowing full well that they would never win over the major portion of the Hispanic voice.
It would seem that this anti-gay religious lobby will go to any lengths, even to embrace the most anti-immigrant of them all, as long as gays are excluded. They have embraced the anti-immigrant devil incarnate, rather than consider equality for gays, and guess who has reared his miserable head in what can only be perceived as the single most phony alliance in the history of American immigration politics:
“We had as a guest Sen. Rick Santorum and it was a very open conversation, even on immigration where we have some slight differences,” according to Alfonso Aguilar, one of the most noted Catholic pro-life and pro-justice leaders in the U.S. (As reported by The Christian Post)
“We saw Sen. Santorum really wanting to understand the community and [he] ended up articulating a very good position on immigration. It was really a discussion and it was great to see someone like Sen. Santorum meeting with Latino leaders of faith,” he added. (Unbelievable the lengths they would go to – to exclude gays – even embrace the enemy!)
Aguilar apparently cited the Obama administration’s “attack” on the culture of life and the family as the catalyst for the never-before-seen partnerships between Christian conservatives, Hispanic evangelicals and Hispanic Catholics.
What a great irony – this very lobby voted for President Obama and now turns against Obama policy, while hoping for that portion of the Obama policy that includes their needs, while consciously advocating against the “other” minority – the LGBT community– how shameful of the religious zealots – and how disingenuous of its flock. And while they all chant “ Save our Souls but God Forbid Equality,” I suggest the LGBT binational community chain themselves to Schumer’s office or reroute its efforts through a workable strategy.