By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com February 07 2013 7:17 PM ET
When a bill that would help binational same-sex couples was reintroduced in this session of Congress, it again came with support from two Republican cosponsors.
Representatives Richard Hanna of New York and Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania released statements praising the Uniting American Families Act and arguing it will help American business. Maine Republican Susan Collins is expected to repeat as cosponsor of the Senate version of the bill.
If the legislation is included as part of an overarching immigration reform package — as President Obama has pressed for — then it would end the practice of splitting up binational couples because the federal government doesn't recognize their marriages.
Some Republican lawmakers have said including gay couples in immigration reform could scuttle the entire effort, something Senate majority leader Harry Reid derided as excuse-making from his GOP colleagues. What Dent and Hanna have to say, though, might be more convincing to members of their party.
"This bill is a logical extension of current immigration rules," said Dent. "I've received a great deal of input from the business community both in my district and nationally. We are losing talented workers because of existing law. We're also losing people who were part of civic efforts to make our communities better."
"I support the Uniting American Families Act because our current immigration policy is hurting U.S. businesses and American workers," said Hanna. "Because our laws force some couples to live apart rather than together here, Americans are pressured to take their talent, innovation, and wealth elsewhere. Businesses large and small in New York are struggling to keep some of their best workers in the United States. As a result, some companies are forced to relocate employees — and sometimes entire divisions and the jobs they represent — overseas, just to keep American talent in their organization. These Americans simply want to live in their own country with the person they love. We can keep jobs, dollars, and talent right here in the United States by simply allowing financially and emotionally committed couples to live together in the same country."
The Log Cabin Republicans touted the statements and cosponsors. "They understand the reality today is that in nine states and the District of Columbia, committed gay couples can marry, but many binational same-sex couples are forced to live under the threat of being split up or deported," said Log Cabin Republicans interim executive director Gregory T. Angelo. "These individuals are taxpayers, hard workers, and innovators, and deserving of an immigration reform package that addresses reality."