President Obama includes binational same-sex couples in immigration reform proposal

This afternoon in Las Vegas, NV, President Barack Obama presented the White House's proposal for immigration reform. The proposal includes extending protections to binational same-sex couples, where one partner is a United States citizen and the other is not. 

Under the headline "Streamling Legal Immigration," the proposal details ways that the immigration reform plan can "Keep Families Together." It states:

[The proposal] treats same-sex families as families by giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner. The proposal also revises current unlawful presence bars and provides broader discretion to waive bars in cases of hardship. 

Binational same-sex couples who are legally married have long encountered immigration challenges because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from respecting marriages or unions between same-sex couples. DOMA prevents the U.S. citizen from sponsor their foreign same-sex spouse for their green card, although different-sex couples in the same situation are eligible to do so. President Obama's proposal does not indicate that binational couples would be required to be legally married in order to sponsor their same-sex partner for immigration purposes. 

Earlier today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained that the president supports immigration reform that protects same-sex couples. He said:

"The President believes that it should be included and that should come as no surprise. As we've said all along, this is consistent with the principles he has laid out over the last four years. And the President has long believed that Americans with same-sex partners from other countries should not be faced with the painful choice between staying with the person they love or staying in the country they love. And the President's position on this is consistent with how we've approached prosecutorial discretion at DHS and others. So I think it should not be a surprise and it would be entirely inconsistent not to have that position. 

Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, an organization dedicated to advocating for fair and equal immigration policies for LGBT families, applauded the president's proposal. Tiven said:

LGBT families are elated to have the President's support for an immigration reform bill that includes our families. When the President leads, Congress and the American people join him to stand for equality. From the repeal of ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' to marriage equality, the President's leadership has been effective, and critical, in winning real change for real families. As Congress moves forward in crafting legislation to fix our broken immigration system, we look forward to working with the President and our allies on Capitol Hill to pass a bill that ends the discrimination LGBT families face, provides a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people - gay and straight - and quickly integrates young people whose dream is to be fully, legally American. 

The proposal will now be considered by the members of the U.S. Congress.