State Department changes visa rules for same-sex partners of foreign diplomats

State Department changes visa rules for same-sex partners of foreign diplomats

The new rules reverse a 2009 policy instituted by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which defined "family" of foreign diplomats as including same-sex domestic partners, thus making them eligible for diplomatic visas.

Where USA Today does have some valid criticism is the fact that many countries ban same-sex marriage, so diplomats from those countries could face serious trouble.

In an insulting turn, the government is using the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage against the very people it's supposed to benefit, claiming that their new ruling is based on "equality" for both straight and queer diplomats. One Nigerian man (not a United Nations staffer) who married his same-sex partner overseas reported that both he and his family members in Nigeria received death threats as a result. Tunisia, Cameroon, Tanzania, Indonesia, Uganda, and Russian Federation have arrested people for same-sex conduct.

Samantha Power, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, called the new policy "needlessly cruel & bigoted".

USA officials told reporters that the change was meant to align U.S. policy toward foreign diplomats with State Department policy toward American diplomats posted overseas.

That means many gay couples would have to come to the USA on a tourist visa to get married before they could return for one of them to work for the U.N. Some couples could also face the decision between getting married so they could stay together in the US and being persecuted back home. "This is based on USA law, which now recognizes a constitutional right to same-sex marriage", a United States official told CNN.

The United Nations sent a memo to staffers in September regarding the impending change.

Trump claims he rejected Trudeau meeting at United Nations
Ottawa and Washington remain at odds over Canada´s managed dairy sector, and the dispute resolution provisions in NAFTA. Trump blames NAFTA for causing USA manufacturing jobs to move to low-wage Mexico and is demanding major changes.

According to the State Department, "only a relationship legally considered to be a marriage in the jurisdiction where it took place establishes eligibility as a spouse for immigration purposes".

"Same-sex spouses of US diplomats now enjoy the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex spouses", the note said.

The State Department has started enforcing a new directive from the Trump administration that restricts visas for the same-sex partners of diplomats.

But it also rolls back a practice championed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to extend benefits to same-sex domestic partners of diplomats or worldwide staff posted in the USA, even if they were not legally married.

Starting October 1, these couples must provide proof of marriage by the end of the year or leave the country within 30 days.

This, it said, was "an unfortunate change in rules, since same-sex couples, unlike opposite-sex couples, have limited choices when it comes to marriage".

Same sex marriage is legal in just 26 of 193 U.N. member countries worldwide, and homosexuality is illegal in 72 nations. Twenty-six countries allow gay marriage, according to a 2017 tally by the Pew Research Center.

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