"I commend Secretary Napolitano for recognizing the value and importance of all families,” Leahy said Monday in a press release. “Her actions in this regard represent another step toward fairness and equality under our immigration law, and most of all it is the right thing to do."  

The announcement followed the administration’s decision in June to defer action for qualifying young people brought to the country illegally by their parents.

“I praised President Obama and Secretary Napolitano in June for rightly embracing a temporary relief policy for qualified young people, brought here through no fault of their own, and I again commend them for extending the same opportunities for relief to qualifying same-sex couples,” Leahy said.

Leahy has introduced the United American Families Act, which would make Napolitano’s decision on same-sex relationships permanent.

"Earlier this month I was pleased to welcome Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Energy: Trump NASA pick advances after drama | White House office to investigate Pruitt's soundproof booth | 170 lawmakers call for Pruitt to resign Trump's NASA nominee advances after floor drama Family, friends mourn death of Barbara Bush MORE (R-Maine) as the first Republican cosponsor to my Uniting American Families Act, which would update U.S. immigration law to permit American citizens to sponsor same-sex 'permanent partners' applying for legal residency in the United States,” Leahy said. “I am heartened to see the momentum grow in our efforts to keep families together and provide for those who qualify the chance to remain in the United States legally."