WASHINGTON — Sen. Chuck Schumer refused to commit to voting to add same-sex couple protections to comprehensive immigration reform legislation, warning it could derail the a bipartisan effort to move the bill this year.
When asked if he would support an amendment providing visas to foreign spouses in a same-sex marriage, Schumer, a member of the bipartisan Gang of Eight which wrote the Senate's immigration bill, told reporters, "I'm not going get into speculatives. I would very much like to see it in the bill. But we have to have a bill that has support to get [the language] passed. That's the conundrum."
Schumer, however, did say the language has become a major stumbling block for the gang and warned it could scuttle the entire bill if it is added.
"Look, this one is something, you know, I worry about all the time. I'm a good sleeper but I wake up in the morning thinking of these things … Our four Republican colleagues feel very strongly that if this is in the bill they would not be able to support it," Schumer said.
The New York Democrat's comments came as the Judiciary Committee has begun marking up the bill, a process that is expected to take several weeks. Although Chairman Patrick Leahy has filed a same-sex marriage amendment, it remains unclear if he will actually push for a vote on it during the committee's work on the bill, push it off until the floor debate or simply drop the issue altogether.
Human Rights Campaign vice president for communications Fred Sainz said the nation's largest LGBT rights group expects Schumer to stand behind the amendment.
"If Chairman Leahy offers either amendment he filed, and given Sen Schumer's long-record of supporting LGBT equality, we would expect the Senator to support either of them," Sainz told BuzzFeed.
Immigration Equality went further, with spokesman Steve Ralls saying, "Senator Schumer voted for DOMA in 1996, and binational couples are still suffering the consequences."