The U.S. Kicks Off LGBTQ History Month By Ending Diplomats’ Same-Sex Partner Visas
Only 12% of the world allows same-sex marriage.
October is LGBTQ history month in the U.S., but the White House doesn’t seem to feel the spirit. Tuesday, the Trump administration ended a policy that provided visas for diplomats’ same-sex partners.
The partners of diplomats and UN staff will only receive U.S. residency visas if they are already legally married in their home countries—though same-sex marriage is only allowed by 12% of UN nations, as former ambassador to the UN Samantha Power noted on Twitter:
Needlessly cruel & bigoted: State Dept. will no longer let same-sex domestic partners of UN employees get visas unless they are married. But only 12% of UN member states allow same-sex marriage. https://t.co/MjZpRVLYcf— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) September 28, 2018
The decision came into effect this month after being announced in July. A memo published on Sept. 13 by the United Nations explains that “the Department of State will not issue a G-4 visa for same-sex domestic partners.” To qualify for the visa, the note explains, ”same sex domestic partners accompanying or seeking to join newly arrived United Nations officials must provide proof of marriage to be eligible for a G-4 visa or to seek a change into such status.”
In its own notice sent to the United Nations, the Department of State explained that the new restriction was designed to make visa policy consistent with the fact that same-sex marriage is now legal in the U.S.
“[T]he Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that U.S. domestic laws banning recognition of same -sex marriage are unlawful under the United States Constitution,” the note reads.“Consequently, […] the Department will only be able to accept the accreditation and registration of spouses” (pdf, p. 3).
Diplomats’ partners who are already in the country will have three months to provide proof of marriage before Dec. 31, or be required to leave within 30 days. But for many of those who don’t already live in the U.S., marriage can be impossible and even dangerous: In at least 70 countries, homosexuality is still criminalized.
Until now, married and unmarried same-sex partners of U.S. and international diplomats have been allowed to apply for diplomatic visas thanks to a decision issued in 2009 by then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton (at the time, same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in the U.S. either).
Married heterosexual partners have long been allowed to apply for diplomatic visas. Unmarried heterosexual partners were not awarded the same conditions; heterosexual marriage is legal and widely available around the world.