Under the chaos of the Supreme Court debacle and President Donald Trump’s latest scandal, the U.S. State Department on Oct. 1 started denying visas to same-sex partners of diplomats and officials at U.S.-based international organizations who aren’t legally married.
This new policy reverses one that’s been in place for almost 10 years, and it insists the couples be married — even if they’re from countries that criminalize gay marriage.
Foreign diplomats fear the policy will increase hardships for same-sex couples in countries that don’t recognize same-sex marriage and impose undue hardships on couples from countries that criminalize homosexuality.
Only 12 percent of the 193 United Nations member countries recognize same-sex marriages while at least 70 countries around the world still criminalize homosexuality, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.
This means some of the couples would face serious ramifications in their home countries if they attempted to solve the visa problem by getting married in the U.S., and according to The New York Times, 105 families will be affected by this rule change.
Under the new policy, same-sex couples must get married or their partner cannot obtain a visa. For same-sex partners already in the U.S. and currently holding a visa, a deadline has been set. If they don’t show the state department proof of marriage by Dec. 31, their partners will have 30 days to leave the country.
Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power denounced the Trump administration’s new policy on Twitter as “needlessly cruel and bigoted.”
And she’s right.
This policy is needlessly cruel and bigoted. It’s being done in an effort to foster equality — for heterosexuals.
Because straight couples have always had to be married for the partner of a diplomat or U.N. official to receive a visa of their own, the administration perceives this recognition of same-sex partnerships despite couples not being legally married as special treatment.
While the notion of fostering equality at face value isn’t a bad thing, this policy fails to take into consideration that heterosexual couples aren’t discriminated against anywhere in the world while same-sex partners are. Opposite-sex couples don’t face the threat of being stoned to death or jailed for marrying the person they want, but homosexual couples do, which is why former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put the policy in place in 2009.
The original directive granted visas to partners of foreign diplomats in same-sex relationships regardless of marital status because same-sex marriage wasn’t widely available across the globe then. It was part of a broader effort by the Obama State Department to position the U.S. as a leader on LGBTQ rights.
Today, same-sex marriage still isn’t an option for everyone worldwide, and many couples still face threats because of their home-nation’s criminalization of homosexuality. Therefore, it’s clear this policy change serves no point other than to cause harm to the many it will affect and to once again send another clear message that the Trump administration will only look out for the straight white majority and has no interest in protecting minorities.
The Trump administration is on the wrong side of history.
As Clinton stated in her 2011 speech before a U.N. leader’s meeting, “Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”