As of Monday, the Trump administration implemented a policy that denies visas to same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations employees, and those already in the U.S. must marry by the end of the year or leave the country.
> 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.
However, the vast majority of UN member countries have not legalized same-sex marriage, meaning the policy change will cause undue hardship on couples from those countries, critics say.
> Samantha Power, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, denounced the new policy on Twitter as “needlessly cruel & bigoted.”
> “State Dept. will no longer let same-sex domestic partners of UN employees get visas unless they are married,” she tweeted, noting that “only 12% of UN member states allow same-sex marriage.”
The Trump administration’s decision reverses policy set in 2009 by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which allowed same-sex domestic partners of U.S. and foreign diplomats to obtain visas; it did not allow the same for heterosexual domestic partners.
> The new policy —which enters into force Monday—requires that foreign domestic partners of diplomats and U.N. officials posted in the United States must show the State Department proof of marriage by Dec. 31, or leave the country within 30 days. As of today, domestic partners of diplomats and U.N. officials based abroad will need to show they are married in order to enter the country on a diplomatic visa. The latest policy change, the United States explained in the note, was aimed at ensuring all couples were treated equally.
According to Foreign Policy, there are at least 10 U.N. employees in the U.S. who will need to get married by the end of the year in order to for their partners’ to remain eligible for visas.