If passed, new legislation will mean that families members including same-sex partners will be able to gain faster entry to the US. This is part of the ongoing efforts at immigration reform in the US. Family based immigration would be given priority; Unused visas from previous years will increase the number of visas available.
Mike Honda, who heads the caucus of Asian Americans, said that family members in some Countries have to wait decades to gain entry to the US.
"The benefits cannot be overstated," Honda said. "American workers with families by their side are happier, healthier and more able to succeed than those distanced from loved ones for years on end."
The Catholic Church opposes the inclusion of gay partners in the legislation. Neil Abercrombie, a Democratic congressman from Hawaii, said that excluding gay partners was a form of discrimination.
"There has always been somebody ... after they got here, then they wanted to close the door," Abercrombie told reporters.
"We didn't learn anything about discrimination," he said. "This is something we're not backing down on."
Obama's forthcoming immigration reforms are likely to focus on undocumented workers and ways in which they could legalise their status in the US. George W Bush in the previous administration had tried to do something similar; However, these initiatives all failed due to opposition from within his own Republican Party.