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Gay marriage injected into immigration debate

| Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, 7:56 p.m.
The Washington Post
At their home in Haverhil, Mass., Tim Coco, left, and husband Genesio Oliveira, who emigrated from Brazil, play with their new puppy, Pure, a 5-month-old Maltese. They spent three years apart after an immigration judge ordered Oliveira to return to Brazil in 2007. U.S. immigration officials granted Oliveira a visa in 2010 after high-ranking federal officials made personal appeals for Coco and Oliveira. Illustrates IMMIG-MARRIAGE (category a), by David Nakamura (c) 2013, The Washington Post. Moved Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. (MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Gretchen Ertl)

WASHINGTON — In his final legislative act as a senator, Secretary of State John Kerry sought to resolve an international dilemma. He filed Senate Bill 48, seeking “permanent resident status for Genesio Januario Oliveira,” a gay Brazilian facing deportation because he does not qualify for a spousal visa.

President Obama is aiming to grant same-sex couples like Oliveira and his American husband, Tim Coco, equal immigration rights as heterosexual couples. The proposal could allow up to 40,000 foreign nationals in same-sex relationships to apply for legal residency and, potentially, citizenship.

The measure has inspired a fierce pushback from congressional Republicans and some religious groups, who say it could sink hopes for a comprehensive agreement aimed at providing a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants.

The same-sex measure was not included in the immigration proposals issued last week by a bipartisan Senate working group, whose overall framework Obama largely embraced.

Congressional Republicans immediately condemned the idea. “Which is more important, LGBT or border security?” asked Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., using an abbreviation for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. “I'll tell you what my priorities are.”

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