U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — the most prominent Republican in the “Gang of Eight,” a group of senators who developed the bipartisan immigration reform bill — said Thursday he will revoke his support if an amendment is added that allows immigration benefits to foreign-born, gay partners of American citizens.
“If this bill has in it something that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill. I’m done,” Rubio said in an interview on the Andrea Tantaros Show.
“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,” said Rubio.
The amendment, introduced Tuesday by U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), would enable married, bi-national same-sex couples to apply for a visa through the marriage-based green card application process.
Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, originally introduced the measure during the committee’s markup of the bill, but he withdrew it under pressure from Republican lawmakers who said it was a poison pill that would destroy GOP support for the bill.
“Seeking equal protection under our laws for the LGBT community, is the right thing to do,” said Leahy, in a statement on Tuesday. “I withheld my anti-discrimination amendment during the Senate Judiciary Committee markup. As the entire Senate turns to debate the immigration bill, the fight for equality must go on.”
Rubio added that as the bill is currently written, it has “no chance” of passing.
Later Thursday, Rubio — responding to a question by Think Progress on whether he’d support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill to make workplace discrimination against LGBT individuals illegal — Rubio said, “By and large I think all Americans should be protected but I’m not for any special protections based on orientation.”