Oct. 1, 2018 – The Trump administration on Monday began denying visas to same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations employees, and requiring those already in the United States to get married 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.
But critics says the new policy will impose undue hardships on foreign couples from countries that criminalize same-sex marriages.
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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.”