Get married, go home, or get deported by the end of the year.
That’s the ultimatum put forth by the Trump administration for the same-sex partners of foreign diplomats, UN employees and more, currently living here on G-4 visas. As of Monday, the administration began denying visas to those foreign officials not enjoined in the bonds of wedlock.
G-4 Visas for Gays, 2009-2018
It’s a reversal of Hillary Clinton’s decision in 2009, when she was Secretary of State, to acknowledge the same-sex partners of diplomats as eligible for visas the way a heterosexual spouse would be.
“The Department of State will not issue a G-4 visa for same-sex domestic partners,” says a memo from the UN Chief of Human Resources to the staff, according to a Foreign Policy report. “As of 1 October 2018, same-sex domestic partners … seeking to join newly arrived U.N. officials must provide proof of marriage to eligible for a G-4 visa or to seek a change in such status.”
The policy first emerged in July, when the State Department sent memos through the US mission to the UN declaring same-sex diplomats would need to be married to be considered family in the US.
The policy is unclear about where couples must be married, or recognized as married, in order to qualify. Not all couples affected by the policy can get married in their home countries. Some may be subjecting themselves to violence or discrimination if they marry here in the States. Additionally, some may come from countries that do legally recognize civil unions and domestic partnerships as family bonds, which won’t be honored while they’re here.
The Department of State Tried to Sell This as ‘Enjoying the Same Rights’
The US mission to the UN tried to pass this off as equality, based on the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that made same-sex marriage legal nationwide. “Same-sex spouses of U.S. diplomats now enjoy the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex spouses,” said a July 12 memo from the State Department to the UN. “Consistent with Department policy, partners accompanying members of permanent missions or seeking to join the same must generally be married in order to be eligible.”
Former US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power called the policy “needlessly cruel & bigoted,” noting that “only 12% of UN member states allow same-sex marriage.”
There are at least 10 UN employees who will be forced to marry by the end of the year in order to retain their partners’ visa statuses, plus the partners of foreign representatives at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other international organizations with employees on G-4 visas.
Trump’s Duplicitous Track Record on LGBTQ Rights
Trump once presented himself as a “real friend” to the LGBTQ world and even bashed Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail for not being gay-friendly enough. “Thank you to the LGBT community!” Trump tweeted after the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting. “I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”
But his time in office has exposed an anti-LGBTQ agenda, from his effort to ban trans people from the military, to his widespread nomination and appointment of judges who “demonstrate hostility” to LGBTQ people, to his and Jeff Sessions’ instatement of “religious liberty protections” as a cloak for discrimination, even to his administration’s support of that dumb cake shop.
Rescinding same-sex visa rights to ambassadors, diplomats and other international officials is another tile in Trump’s mosaic of cruelty and indifference toward other human beings. But it’s more than that. It’s a message to the heads of sovereign states worldwide that America is toxically authoritarian and anti-LGBTQ.