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Leahy wants immigration benefits for gay couples

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ALICIA A. CALDWELL | February 13, 2013 10:25 AM EST | AP

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Patrick Leahy want the government to start affording same sex, married couples the same immigration benefits that heterosexual couples now enjoy.

Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, says he will introduce later Wednesday the Uniting Families Act, a bill that would provide spousal immigration benefits to same sex couples. Leahy discussed the bill briefly during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration reform.

Because the federal government does not currently recognize same sex marriages, U.S. citizens cannot sponsor their same sex partners for immigration benefits, including green cards.

The Justice Department is no longer defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. The Supreme Court is set to take up gay marriage cases later this year.