By Ollie Gratzinger | Opinions Editor
“Get married, or get out.”
That’s the gist of a new Trump-era visa policy, which will target the same-sex partners of foreign diplomats of U.S.-based international organizations like the United Nations, according to TIME Magazine. As of Monday, Oct. 1, the administration limited its policy of issuing visas to include only spouses, not domestic partners, despite the fact same-sex marriage is permitted only in 12 percent of U.N. member states. In many others, it’s a crime punishable by law. In others yet, it’s a crime punishable by death.
Foreign Policy Magazine reports that even though the U.S. informed international governments that it would offer exceptions to this law, primarily in the instances of diplomats whose home countries criminalize homosexuality, these exceptions were not extended to members of the U.N. The BBC estimates that at least 10 U.N. officials residing in the U.S. currently will have to marry before the end of the year, or come Dec. 31, their partners will have 30 days to leave the country.
A State Department spokesperson reported to NBC News that the policy is to promote “equal treatment” between gay and straight couples, as heterosexual diplomats are required to be married in order for their partners to qualify for a visa. But in truth, the policy is incredibly tone deaf and dismissive of the unique challenges gay couples face around the world.
There’s an important and little-discussed difference between equality and equity. Equality is treating everyone the same. In this case, yes, the policy promotes equality. Technically.
Equity, though, is about fairness. Equity takes into account that different people need different things in order to attain the same kinds of success, because we live in a world in which everyone isn’t always granted the same opportunities. In real life, the playing field isn’t level. Sometimes, equality isn’t enough. It assumes a fair and just world, while equity recognizes the social, religious, economic or systemic barriers that marginalized groups often face.
While it’s true that heterosexual couples have to marry in order for their spouse to obtain the G-4 visa, the same hasn’t been the case for same-sex couples because places exist in which they legally can’t get married. In fact, the U.S. was one of those places until 2015.
Even if the impacted members of the U.N. were to wed now in the U.S. at a city hall, they could end up susceptible to persecution upon returning home. Failure to marry, though, could force them apart. This is a heartbreaking conundrum that Donald Trump and his backward administration has no right whatsoever to force upon anyone. It isn’t promoting equality; It’s taking equity away. Somehow, I feel like Trump knows this. Either that, or he’s so far removed from the plight of the common person that he genuinely can’t distinguish between the two. Frankly, it’s hard to say which is worse.
This decision is the next in a long line of Trumpian politics aimed at unjustly and often cruelly targeting the LGBT+ community. Earlier in the year, the president tried once again to limit the capacity to which transgender individuals can serve in the armed forces. In the 2017 court case Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the administration argued in favor of the bakery, the owners of which claimed it was within the scope of their First Amendment rights to discriminate against same-sex couples. The Justice Department, in a mid-2017 friend-of-the-court brief, argued that the 1964 Civil Rights Act doesn’t protect against discrimination based on sexuality. Later in that year, Trump ended the terms of the remaining members of the HIV and AIDS advisory council.
And now, this. We live in a world so deeply tainted by hatred, and yet it’s love that the president chooses to target time and time again.
When the gay liberation movement first began gaining momentum in the 1960s, they were fighting to be tolerated. The 2015 landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage federally throughout the U.S., marked the moment the country’s LGBT+ community began to demand to be accepted, not just allowed. But now, it seems that we’re sliding backward as not only a nation, but as a world, and Trump is playing no small part in such a setback.