It’s been a strange week. For starters, Donald Trump announced that, after an on-again, off-again rollercoaster relationship, he and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un are officially an item now.
“I was really being tough and so was he,” Trump told a rally of supporters in West Virginia. “And we would go back and forth. And then we fell in love. No really. He wrote me beautiful letters.”
Isn’t it romantic? Or, at least, it would be if Trump knew how to read.
Boy, it will upset Republicans when they learn Trump is gay!
I’m kidding, of course. Well, maybe. It’s striking that Republicans would probably freak out if Trump came out as gay, but they have no problem with him embracing authoritarian dictators who murder and starve their people. #SquadGoals
In other words, in Republica being gay is bad, but being a murderous dictator makes you macho!
It’s an important distinction given the news that the Trump administration started “denying visas to same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations employees and requires those already in the United States to marry by the end of the year or leave the country,” according to foreignpolicy.com.
Now, on the surface, this might not seem like a big deal. I mean, opposite-sex couples can’t get visas for their partners if they’re not married, and marriage equality is the law of the land in the U.S., so this change makes everything equal, right?
Wrong. We’re talking about the most anti-LGBTQ administration since Stonewall here, so let’s not kid ourselves.
Former U.S. Ambassador to UN Samantha Power Tweeted on Sept. 28, “Needlessly cruel & bigoted: State Dept. will no longer let same-sex domestic partners of UN employees get visas unless they are married. But only 12% of UN member states allow same-sex marriage.”
Only 12 percent. That’s, um, really low. If a doctor gave you a 12 percent chance of survival, you’d better have all of your affairs in order.
But these same-sex couples may marry in the U.S. where it’s legal, right? No big deal, just take the “I do” plunge!
Except it’s not that easy. Not only do most United Nations countries not allow same-sex couples to marry, but, according to Fortune, “in more than 70, same-sex relationships are punishable by law.”
According to Akshaya Kumar, the Deputy United Nations Director at Human Rights Watch, in these 70+ countries, “homosexual conduct remains illegal, and in many, anyone found ‘guilty’ may face harsh punishments including years in prison or even public caning.”
For example, Morocco, which throws gay men in prison, and Malaysia, where a lesbian couple was recently publicly caned.
“The U.S. government should recognize, as it had for almost nine years until today, that requiring a marriage as proof of bona fide partnership is a bad and cruel policy, one that replicates the terrible discrimination many LGBT people face in their own countries,” writes Kumar, “and should be immediately reversed.”
This policy writes Kumar, “may make it impossible for some LGBT UN staff to live together with their partners in the United States.”
Not that the Trump administration cares about keeping families together. “Bad and cruel” policies are the administration’s specialty. After all, the U.S. is still keeping immigrant children from their parents, warehoused in tent cities. Something that should be a five-alarm outrage receiving wall-to-wall coverage, but competes with the nonstop barrage of scandals from this administration. Not to mention the gross inequities in our criminal justice system that tears and keeps families — a vast proportion of which are racial minorities — apart.
It makes it easy to overlook something like discrimination against LGBTQ UN staff disguised as a benevolent push toward equality.
A legal, public marriage might put these couples in real danger. The kind of threat that same-sex couples in the U.S. — though certainly facing backlash under the Trump regime — don’t have to worry about.
It’s the kind of move you’d expect to see in a place like Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Then again, Trump declared his love for him, too. It’s an alarming pattern. Vote on Nov. 6 as lives depend on it.
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer, and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.