- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
Obama gets caught between advocates of gay rights, immigration reform
Even as President Obama extolled the contributions of gay citizens Thursday, a clash over gay rights on Capitol Hill was threatening to unravel his cherished goal of immigration reform.
Mr. Obama celebrated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month at the White House with champagne served to same-sex couples, gay administration officials and other guests.
“From Minnesota to Maryland, from the United States Senate to the NBA, it’s clear we’re reaching a turning point,” Mr. Obama said. “We have become not just more accepting; we’ve become more loving as a country and as a people. Hearts and minds change with time; laws do too.”
The bond between Mr. Obama and gays is clear. A Pew Research poll released Thursday found that 76 percent of LGBT adults view Mr. Obama favorably, while his approval rating with the general public is 47 percent. But the president who ended the military’s policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is in a jam with gay-rights groups over immigration.
Activists are pressuring the president to take a stronger stand on an amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill that would extend benefits to gay partners of American citizens in states where gay marriages are legal. Federal law doesn’t recognize gay marriages.
The proposal was introduced by SenateJudiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, who also wants to ensure that same-sex partners of American citizens can remain in the U.S. without fear of being separated and deported by the government. Several key Republican senators say Mr. Leahy’s proposals would kill overall immigration reform.
“If this bill has something in it that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill. I’m done,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican and a key member of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators who wrote the legislation. “I don’t think that’s going to happen, and it shouldn’t happen. This is already a difficult enough issue as it is.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said that adding gay marriage benefits would dissolve the coalition of religious groups that is supporting the bill.
High stakes for Obama
The collapse of the immigration bill would be another huge blow to Mr. Obama, who lost a high-profile fight this spring on gun control and is eager to pocket a significant legislative achievement in his second term.
Mr. Obama has pointed to the legislation, written by four Republicans and four Democrats, as proof that he and congressional Republicans are capable of working together. Such examples are few, and it’s not clear whether a more active and visible role by Mr. Obama would help or hurt the bill’s chances on Capitol Hill.
Although Mr. Obama is fond of saying he has run his last race for public office, he also knows that gays provided significant financial support for his re-election. By one estimate, gays accounted for one out of five “bundlers” who raised at least $500,000 for Mr. Obama’s campaign last year.
The leader of a gay Republican group said Mr. Obama should take a stronger stand on the proposal to allow same-sex partners to stay in the U.S.
“If an immigration bill is passed by Congress this year, then it should include this important provision,” said Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud Inc., a group of gay Republicans. “The president could do more to push for inclusion of the gay provision, but he doesn’t appear to be very involved in the process at all, not just on that issue.”
Mr. LaSalvia said the proposal should not be considered a “poison pill” for the overall bill.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Senate's filibuster rule change opens floodgates for Obama nominees
- White House faces press revolt over access to Obama's South Africa flight
- U.S., Britain to halt non-lethal aid to Syrian opposition
- New Obama adviser John Podesta is against Keystone but will steer clear of pipeline deliberations
- White House blasts GOP for criticism of Castro handshake
Latest Blog Entries
- White House downplays concerns over phony sign-language interpreter
- Joe Biden signs condolence book for Nelson Mandela at D.C. embassy
- Biden to Japanese businesswomen: 'Do your husbands like you working full-time?'
- Son, granddaughter join Biden on weeklong diplomatic trip to Asia
- Obamas visit fasting immigration activists
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
- House votes for bargain to end budget drama
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- Inside China: Ukraine gets nuke umbrella
- Echoes of Cold War in Ukraine as Russia battles Western influence
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- North Korean dictator stuns world with uncle's execution
- 80 people publicly executed across North Korea for films, Bibles
- Atheists smug as Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Consummate traveler Todd DeFeo explores the unique stories that make destinations worth going to.
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow