So Much For Evangelical Support For Immigration Reform

As I reported a few weeks ago, the chief lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals, Galen Carey, told me that Sen. Charles Schumer had assured him that there would be no gay and lesbian spousal sponsorship rights in an immigration reform package. The NAE, which says it supports immigration reform, would not support a package that includes — as Schumer’s proposed package currently does — the ability for a gay or lesbian American citizen to sponsor their non-citizen spouses for citizenship.

Steve Ralls of Immigration Equality, an advocacy group that supports same-sex sponsorships, told me that Schumer had assured him that they would be included in a package.

Of course the prospects for immigration reform this congressional term are slim indeed, but on Friday a coalition of religious right groups who had come out in favor of it have made clear they won’t support it with same-sex spousal sponsorships.

In a conference call a few weeks ago, Schumer had pleaded with these conservative evangelicals to prevail upon Republican senators to support immigration reform, in order to get the necessary bipartisan support for a bill. (File under: Democratic religious outreach not dead yet, but still not effective.)

Now, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. Richard Land, President of The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, Ken Blackwell, the former Secretary of State of Ohio, and Lou Engle of The Call to Conscience are publicly threatening to withhold their support, claiming that Schumer and President Obama would be willing to forego reform for millions to help “only about 36,000” gay and lesbian couples. They don’t seem to notice that they are threatening to tank legislation that would help tens of millions because they can’t open up their hearts to 36,000 gay and lesbian couples — but they accuse the Democrats of “political posturing” and catering to “special interests.”