Sen. Marco Rubio said Thursday that if Democrats expand his immigration bill to extend benefits to gay spouses, he’ll have to scuttle the legislation.
“If this bill has something in it that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill. I’m done,” Mr. Rubio said Thursday during an interview on the Andrea Tantaros Show, according to Yahoo News. “I’m off it, and I’ve said that repeatedly. 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. Patrick J. Leahy introduced an amendment this week that would grant Americans the right to sponsor gay spouses who have been legally married in states that recognize those unions. Same-sex marriage is legal in about a dozen states, though the federal government does not recognize it.
Mr. Leahy said it is unfair to deny benefits to those in committed relationships. But Mr. Rubio and other Republicans who helped write the immigration bill say that they didn’t attach controversial pro-life measures or other hot-button social issues to this bill, and said they cannot accept this one from Democrats.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said adding gay marriage benefits would fracture the coalition of religious groups that are backing the bill, which would also endanger it.
Mr. Leahy had a chance to attach his amendment in the Senate Judiciary Committee when it was considering the bill, but he did not. If the amendment had been added there, it would likely have taken 60 votes to pull it from the bill on the Senate floor — a situation that could have doomed the bill.
Now, it could take 60 votes to add the provision in — a higher bar that Democrats are unlikely to achieve.