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Schumer Pushed on Gays, Immigration

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., is coming under increased pressure to include gay couples in the “gang of eight” immigration bill, and a recent meeting with elected officials from the Empire State underscores the depth of his dilemma.

The top Democrat in the Senate’s bipartisan group of negotiators on an immigration overhaul, Schumer has a huge stake in seeing the legislation succeed, and as we reported on this blog two weeks ago, he and fellow group member Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., could have a tough decision to make if Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., offers an amendment this week to add gay couples to the bill.

Republican members of the working group have said expanding the bill’s rights to include gay people would be a “non-starter” that would preclude them from supporting the bill.

New York officials are not making that choice any easier, according to friend of #WGDB, the great New York City-based Maggie Haberman of Politico. She has the scoop on the off-the-record May 10 meeting in Schumer’s Manhattan office:

The meeting became heated at times, as many attendees made clear to Schumer how critical it is that the overhaul allow U.S. citizens to seek green cards for their foreign-born partners.

Among the attendees at the meeting were Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, State Sen. Brad Hoylman, former State Sen. Tom Duane, and a representative for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is vying to be the first openly gay mayor in New York City. She has yet to take a public position on the amendment, and an aide didn’t respond to an email request for comment on the issue or on Schumer.

Several sources said that O’Donnell and Tiven were the most vocal. Schumer has publicly expressed chagrin about the measure, saying he supports the rights of same-sex couples but also doesn’t want to see Republicans walk away from the overall bill over that amendment.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently in its third day of marking up the sweeping immigration system overhaul. Leahy has said he would like to include an amendment addressing the legislative gaps for gay immigrants, and the best chance such provisions have for being included in the final package would be if they were approved in committee.

That’s, of course, if the bill actually could pass with those measures.

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