Sen. Susan Collins has become the first Republican to co-sponsor a bill that ends discrimination against same-sex couples in immigration deportation cases.
The Uniting American Families Act allows gays and lesbians to sponsor their same-sex spouse for citizenship. Now they are often forced to leave the country or split up.
The Human Rights Campaign points out that the senator from Maine is often on the side of LGBT equality and has co-sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Tax Parity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act, and a bill that extends domestic partnership benefits to federal workers. And HRC held a reception for Collins last year to celebrate her role in repealing "don't ask, don't tell."
Activists hope Collins proves this is an issue where bipartisanship is possible. Immigration Equality leaders, in a comment to the Washington Blade, boasts a coalition of 25 Fortune 500 companies that talk frequently to Republican offices about the business implications of the bad policy.
“This is a bipartisan issue," Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, told the Blade. “It really crosses all boundaries because if talented people have to leave the country because of immigration discrimination against LGBT families, that’s a loss for everybody.”
Collins framed it as an issue about fairness in her statement announcing support.
“This legislation would simply update our nation’s immigration laws to treat bi-national couples equally,” said Collins. “More than two dozen countries recognize same-sex couples for immigration purposes. This important civil rights legislation would help prevent committed, loving families from being forced to choose between leaving their family or leaving their country.”