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Evangelicals Push Exclusion of UAFA

Evangelicals Push Exclusion of UAFA

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Evangelical leaders on the far right held a press call Wednesday urging lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass comprehensive immigration reform but exclude LGBT families from the legislation.

Groups such as the National Association of Evangelicals and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference have joined Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel, in vehemently opposing inclusion of the Uniting American Families Act, which would allow American citizens and green card holders to sponsor their foreign-born same-sex partners for residency.

"Same-sex domestic partnerships will doom any effort for bipartisan support of immigration and will cause religious conservatives to withdraw their support," Staver said in a statement issued last week.

But the calls have met with stiff resistance from the leaders of other religious denominations who support the inclusion of LGBT families in the reform package.

"Just as Jesus did not set any preconditions on identifying himself with, and loving, the sojourner, so too does he call all who claim to follow him to love and welcome the sojourner without moral preconditions," said Bill Mefford, director of civil and human rights for the General Board of Church and Society with the United Methodist Church. "To demand the right to prophetically challenge the nation to incorporate hospitality into our immigration policy but then to work to exclude some people based on their sexual orientation is to lose the moral basis for making that prophetic challenge. We want immigration reform that is just and humane, and that is truly comprehensive and truly moral."

Key legislators in both the House and Senate have signaled their support for UAFA inclusion, including Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, chief sponsor of the House immigration bill, and Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, who is spearheading the effort to write comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Steve Ralls, spokesman for the pro-LGBT Immigration Equality, said the breadth of support that has developed for folding gay families into the bill puts conservatives at a disadvantage.

"The combination of all those things have led us to the point where our inclusion in the bill is expected among most faith and immigration groups and those that are preaching for our exclusion are really the ones who are fighting an uphill battle," Ralls said.

Schumer said last week that he believed an immigration reform bill, which has yet to be introduced, could potentially be passed by the end of the year or at least by March of 2011.

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