WASHINGTON— The U.S. Congress is idle this week, and President Barack Obama has a light schedule when he returns from a trip to Africa. But Washington and the nation remain focused on issues that saw major developments last week: immigration reform and same-sex marriage.
The Senate passed a landmark overhaul of U.S. immigration laws, but the battle is far from over. Backers and opponents of reform are gearing up for what promises to be an even tougher fight in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner has all but ruled out a vote on the Senate bill.
“I do not see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that does not have the majority support of Republicans," he said.
President Barack Obama is urging an all-out effort by the pro-reform side to demand a House vote on a bill that boosts U.S. border security and provides a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, like this man.
“The only thing we are looking for is the same opportunity that all the immigrants had since the beginning of this country," said an undocumented immigrated who called himself Oscar.
The coming weeks will see rallies and intense lobbying efforts to pressure lawmakers. Reform opponents are gearing up, as well. Jim Gilchrist views legalization as amnesty for law-breakers.
“You cannot expect me or 310 million other Americans to respect the rules of law if you are going to give preferential treatment to those who violated the laws," he said.
Meanwhile, backers of marriage rights for same-sex couples are hailing Supreme Court decisions that significantly advanced their cause. The court ruled the federal government must recognize gay unions, and set in motion a resumption of same-sex marriages in California, America’s most-populous state.
Proponents are strategizing to establish same-sex marriage rights nationwide in coming years, and say the Supreme Court rulings are a big step in the right direction.
Attorney David Boies said, “The United States Supreme Court held that there was no purpose for depriving gay and lesbian couples of the right to marry the person they love.”
But opponents of same-sex marriage are not giving up the fight, including Christian minister Rob Schenk. “The Supreme Court has no authority when it comes to the nature of marriage. That authority belongs to the creator who our founders declared is the source of all our rights," he said.
Thursday, Americans will celebrate U.S. Independence Day.