Lawmakers Call Foul on State Department’s LGBTQ Policy Reversal
Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) joined 16 of their colleagues calling on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to amend a new Department policy that will halt the provision of diplomatic visas for unmarried, same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and employees posted to the U.S. or at U.S.-based international organizations. Beat DC readers will recall earlier this month the State Department reversed the policy put in place in 2009 under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that defined family to include domestic partners of diplomats posted at embassies or the UN -- a status that was not extended to unmarried heterosexual couples. A State Department official said the change was made to “ensure and promote equal treatment” for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Pompeo has said he opposes same-sex marriage but promised during his confirmation hearings to treat all employees with respect. A senior administration official, speaking to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity under administration rules, said 105 families currently in the U.S. are affected by the changed policy, 55 of whom are connected with international organizations. Critics say there was no reason for the change and that having spousal visas in the passports of same-sex domestic partners could expose them to prosecution and punishment in countries where homosexuality is illegal. That sentiment is echoed in the letter from the Senators. “To bar LGBTQ diplomats from bringing their partners to the United States is to condone the discriminatory policies of many countries around the world. Diplomats and their families take great risks to serve their nation,” the lawmakers wrote. “American LGBTQ diplomats, supported by the State Department, have fought to secure visas and recognition for their spouses on tours in countries that do not recognize same-sex partnerships, often at great risk to themselves and their careers. This new policy could not only deter foreign diplomats from bringing their families to the United States, but threatens the progress made on this front.” Read the full letter here.