Leahy Welcomes Collins’ Support Of Uniting American Families Act

Collins Becomes First Republican Cosponsor Of Legislation That Brings Equality To Same-Sex Couples Under Immigration Law

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, September 19, 2012) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) welcomed Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) today for becoming the first Republican cosponsor of legislation to update U.S. immigration law to permit American citizens to sponsor same-sex “permanent partners” applying for legal residency in the United States. 

“I commend Senator Susan Collins for cosponsoring my Uniting American Families Act today,” Leahy said. “With this decision, Senator Collins has demonstrated that she stands on the side of fairness in our immigration laws for all Americans and their loved ones.  I hope that her support represents a turning point in the effort of so many of us to make our laws apply equally to all and to end the official discrimination that harms too many Americans.” 

Current law permits American citizens to sponsor their spouses for green cards under the family immigration system.  The Uniting American Families Act would extend this right to same-sex couples by adding “or permanent partner” to sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act that apply to legally married partners.

“This legislation would simply update our nation’s immigration laws to treat bi-national couples equally,” Collins said.  “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.”

Leahy reintroduced the Uniting American Families Act last year, the fourth Congress in which he has sought to move this reform that would apply the same rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples that are afforded to opposite-sex couples under the Immigration and Naturalization Act. The bill currently has 27 Democratic cosponsors, and Collins’s support brings with it renewed and bipartisan momentum to recognize same-sex couples for immigration purposes.

“I expect that Senator Collins’ decision will encourage more Senators to work with us to ensure that the laws of the United States do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation,” Leahy said.  “I look forward to working with Senator Collins as we continue to push for equality for all Americans.”

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