Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging him to consider how the State Department’s recent changes to visa policies for foreign diplomats, diplomatic staff, and United Nation employees may affect same-sex couples from countries that do not recognize same-sex marriages.
“In many nations around the world, consenting, same-sex relationships are criminalized and same-sex marriage is unavailable. I am concerned that the Department’s new policy could deter foreign diplomats from bringing their families to the United States and that it runs counter to how the Department has supported our own American diplomats,” Senator Collins wrote. “To this end, I urge you to maintain U.S. leadership on LGBT policies globally and to prevent penalizing same-sex couples who face significant challenges to open and legal marriage. I request that the Department ensure maximum flexibility for foreign LGBT workers and provide clear public guidance on how same-sex partners of foreign diplomat A visa holders, whose home countries do not allow same-sex marriage or accept accreditation for American diplomatic same-sex spouses, as well as same-sex partners of employees of international organizations who have G-4 visas, can successfully apply for derivative diplomatic visas. ”
On September 30, the State Department announced that it would begin denying visas to unmarried same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats and UN employees, requiring those already in the U.S. to get married by the end of the year or leave the country. This policy change affects 105 families currently in the U.S. The State Department’s action reverses a policy put into place in 2009 that allowed same-sex domestic partners to obtain visas as household members.
Although the State Department’s policy change will ostensibly treat same-sex and heterosexual married couples equally, only 12 percent of countries recognize same-sex marriage. Thus, the policy creates hurdles for same-sex couples considering diplomatic postings in the United States.
Click HERE to read the letter.