The Trump administration is officially denying visas to same-sex partners of diplomats

On Monday, October 1st, the Trump administration instated a new policy that denies visas to unmarried, same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations officials and employees. According to Foreign Policy magazine, the new policy demands the couple must be married for a partner visa to be granted—even in situations where same-sex marriage is criminalized in the country from which the diplomat hails.

Those affected by the policy who already reside in the United States have until the end of the year to get married, or else the partner will be forced to leave the country.

Although many are critiquing the new policy for setting same-sex couples up for unnecessary hardship, the Trump administration argues that the new rule is actually more in tune with the 2015 Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage in the U.S. Those at the helm say the policy has equalized homosexual and heterosexual couples, since straight couples must be married to receive a partner visa (again, even though many nations do not allow same-sex marriage, which prevents many same-sex couples from adhering to this rule in the first place).

"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 12th memo United Nations delegates. "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 is a direct reversal of a 2009 policy put into place by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. During the Obama administration, Clinton okayed the granting of visas to same-sex partners of U.S. foreign diplomats as a part of President Obama’s Memorandum on Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination, which was put in place “to achieve greater equality for the Federal workforce through extension to same-sex domestic partners of benefits currently available to married people of the opposite sex.”

Currently, there are 10 U.N. employees in same-sex partnerships who must now marry by December 31st or be forced to leave the U.S. And although they are able to marry within the U.S., these couples may be subject to prosecution if and when they return home. The U.S. told their foreign connections that “limited exceptions” would be made in instances where same-sex marriage is illegal in foreign governments.

The new policy is not only discriminatory and cruel, but it looks like a thinly veiled attempt to pull back Obama-era policies—regardless of the cost to equality and compassion.

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