U.S. State Department to deny visas to same-sex partners of diplomats

WASHINGTON — The current administration started denying visas to the same-sex partners of visiting diplomats and UN employees on Monday, several media outlets reported.

Foreign Policy reported that the Trump administration is  requiring those already in the United States to get married by the end of the year or leave the country.

From Foreign Policy:

The U.S. Mission to the U.N. portrayed the decision—which foreign diplomats fear will increase hardships for same-sex couples in countries that don’t recognize same-sex marriage—as an effort to bring its international visa practices in line with current U.S. policy. In light of the landmark 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, the U.S. extends diplomatic visas only to married spouses of U.S. diplomats.

“Same-sex spouses of U.S. diplomats now enjoy the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex spouses,” the U.S. mission wrote in a July 12 note to U.N.-based delegations. “Consistent with [State] Department policy, partners accompanying members of permanent missions or seeking to join the same must generally be married in order to be eligible” for a diplomatic visa.

The policy, according to NBC OUT, ends a policy spearheaded by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that allowed these same-sex partners to obtain a spousal visa, also known as the G-4 visa. Now the U.S. will issue a G-4 visa to a partner only if the couple is legally married. However, only a dozen countries in the world recognize same-sex marriage. In many, being LGBTQ is still a crime. The department announced in July of this year that the policy would be changing. Monday was the first day of the new policy being enforced.

A State Department spokesperson told NBC OUT in a statement that the change is “to help ensure and promote equal treatment” between straight and gay couples. Straight couples must be married to obtain a G-4 visa.

The U.S. told foreign governments that they would allow “limited exceptions” to its the policy in cases involving diplomats from countries where same-sex marriage is illegal, Foreign Policy reported. But that government would have to provide documentation proving that same-sex marriage was illegal and commit to accepting same-sex partners of U.S. diplomats. The exception was not offered to U.N. officials.

“With this change, the State Department is enforcing parity in the way they recognize opposite-sex partnerships and same-sex partnerships,” U.N. Globe said in a statement to Foreign Policy. “It is an unfortunate change in rules, since same-sex couples, unlike opposite-sex couples, have limited choices when it comes to marriage.”

“This is an unconscionable, needless attack on some LGBTQ diplomats from around the world, and it reflects the hostility of the Trump-Pence administration toward LGBTQ people” said David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign. “It is unnecessary, mean-spirited, and unacceptable. The White House must immediately go back to a policy that is fully inclusive and takes into account the dangers faced by LGBTQ foreign diplomats, U.N. employees, and their families.”

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