Religious Groups Counter Evangelical Opposition To Equality In Immigration Reform

The press has made much of how evangelicals — remember, those people who only care about abortion and same sex marriage! — are embracing a bigger agenda and breaking ranks with Republicans by endorsing comprehensive immigration reform.

But as I reported on Monday, that support comes with a caveat: no equality for gay and lesbian couples.

Now religious groups who support LGBT equality have pushed back, issuing a statement through the group Immigration Equality Action Fund condemning evangelical efforts to exclude the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) from a comprehensive reform package.

Immigration Equality estimates there are 36,000 couples in which one is an American citizen and is not, and about half of them are raising children. Unlike straight couples, the American citizens cannot sponsor their partners for citizenship.

“The only true pro-family bill is one that keeps all families together,” said Rachel Tiven, executive director of the Immigration Equality Action Fund. 

That’s apparently not persuasive to the “pro-family” leaders who are holding their support for immigration reform hostage because they believe certain families are “unbiblical.” (The conservative evangelical bloc also supports provisions, like biometric social security cards, that progressives reject.)

The faith leaders supporting the UAFA are: African American Ministers in Action (a project of People for the American Way); Call to Action; Catholics for Equality; Church World Service, Immigration and Refugee Program; Clergy United; The Episcopal Church; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society; Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Standing on the Side of Love; the United Methodist Church; and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.

Small numbers compared to the evangelical groups who are opposing the UAFA, and not groups Republicans, whose support Democrats need, will listen to. Politically, their statement may not move any mountains, but it should demonstrate how empty politicians’ touting of “religious” support is if only certain religions get to call the shots because they represent more people or are better organized politically or are unwilling to compromise in any way. (See, e.g., abortion funding in health care reform.)

After the jump, watch a video from Immigration Equality about a family that could be separated if the UAFA doesn’t pass.