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Rubio: 'I'm off it' if immigration bill includes gay couples

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio says if the massive immigration reform bill under debate in the U.S. Senate is amended to include protections for gay U.S. citizens and their foreign spouses he's done working for passage.

Rubio is a co-author of the legislation crafted by the so-called Gang of Eight. He's maintained throughout the process that he opposes including protections for LGBT families in the legislation.

In an interview on June 13 on the "Adrea Tantaros Show," Rubio said, "If this bill has something in it that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill. I'm done."

He added, "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."

Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., filed three amendments to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, including an amendment to provide equal protection to lawfully married bi-national same-sex couples that other couples receive under existing immigration law. 

Leahy said such an amendment would “remove discrimination from our immigration system.”

The senator said, “Seeking equal protection under our laws for the LGBT community, is the right thing to do. 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.”

The Senate voted 84-15 on June 11 to proceed to the comprehensive immigration reform bill, which Leahy is managing on the floor.

The legislation was the subject of five markups in the Judiciary Committee, which has held six hearings on immigration reform this year. With floor debate in the full Senate underway, Leahy also proposed:

• allowing long-term temporary agricultural workers to be accompanied by a child or spouse while working in the United States, extending a right already granted in the immigration bill to individuals in the country on non-agricultural temporary work visas. 

• ensuring that U.S. nonprofit performing arts organizations have a predictable and reliable process for the required temporary visa foreign performers need to perform in the United States.

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