Republican lawmakers may soon have to battle attempts to affirm same-sex “marriage” as part of the proposed immigration reform package. Media reports and many in Washington had begun to refer to immigration reform as a bipartisan issue. But evangelical leader Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), warned the marriage provision would be a deal-breaker.
Earlier this month, 16 House members introduced the "Uniting American Families Act" which would allow gay Americans to sponsor their "permanent partners" to become legal U.S. residents, according to a report in USA Today. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, introduced the measure in the Senate.
Land warned during a panel last week that allowing homosexual immigrants to sponsor their partners as “spouses” would not be welcome.
“It would imply that the federal government is recognizing same-sex marriage, which the federal government has not done,” he said, in an ERLC report.
Republicans who insist the nation needs immigration reform, including Sen. Marco Rubio, also agree the gay couples measure would be a major red flag.
"I think if that issue (gay rights) becomes a central issue in the debate it's going to become harder to get it done because there will be strong feelings on both sides," he told BuzzFeed.
As WORLD reported last month, a bipartisan team of eight senators is working to present a plan of immigration reform. The proposal would allow immigrants already in the country to apply for legal status while beefing up border security with more agents and drones.
It also would allow undocumented workers to register with the government and, after paying a fine, continue working under a probationary legal status. The effort also includes the DREAM Act, the pathway to citizenship for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and calls for stiffer verification measures for employers.
According to Land, other deal breakers would include failing to require immigrants seeking citizenship to learn English and any measure that extends immediate citizenship.