Following a reversal on U.S. visa policy for same-sex partners of diplomats, Rep. Ted Deutch led congressional pushback on the discriminatory shift.
“This Administration has an offensive record when it comes to equal rights for the American LGBTQ community, and now it appears they’re set to endanger the lives of LGBTQ foreign diplomats and UN employees working in the United States,” said Deutch, a Boca Raton Democrat.
Deutch and five other Democratic congressmen co-led a letter asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to reconsider the policy change.
The State Department last week announced spousal visas would only be available to legally married partners of U.S.-based employees of international organizations and foreign missions such as the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
But The Advocate notes many diplomats come from countries that don’t legally recognize same-sex unions.
The reversal means spouses of diplomats already holding G-4 visas must provide evidence of a marriage by the end of the year or face deportation. No new visas will be handed out except to legally married spouses.
“This policy discriminates against gay and lesbian international civil servants, many of whom are citizens of countries that outlaw same-sex marriage,” reads the congressional letter, which bears the signature of 119 congressmen.
The move by Pompeo reversed a 2009 policy put in place by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“It’s particularly offensive that they would dare announce this policy in the name of equality,” says Deutch. “Progress has been made in this country despite, not because of, this Administration. Secretary Pompeo should swiftly reverse this decision and lift the burden on partners of foreign diplomats coming from countries where same-sex marriage is illegal.”
Other signatories for the letter including Florida representatives Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Alcee Hastings, Charlie Crist, Kathy Castor, Lois Frankel and Frederica Wilson.
Only Democrats signed the letter. Only three Florida Democratic congressmen—Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy and Val Demings—did not.