Dem senators urge Pompeo to reverse visa policy on diplomats' same-sex partners

Dem senators urge Pompeo to reverse visa policy on diplomats' same-sex partners

A group of 20 Democratic senators in a letter on Thursday urged Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump to sign funding deal, declare national emergency | Shanahan says allies will be consulted on Afghanistan | Dem demands Khashoggi documents Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general Top Dem demands State Department documents on Khashoggi killing MORE to reverse a new State Department policy that they are calling "discriminatory" against LGBTQ diplomats.

The new policy, which went into effect in September, will deny visas to same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and employees of the United Nations (U.N.) if they are unmarried. 

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The group of lawmakers, led by Democratic Sens. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyGOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate Biden speaking to Dems on Capitol Hill as 2020 speculation mounts: report GOP senators: Trump should not declare border emergency during State of the Union MORE (Pa.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyThe border deal: What made it in, what got left out Lawmakers introduce bill to fund government, prevent shutdown Dems wary of killing off filibuster MORE (Ore.) and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsTrump got in Dem’s face over abortion at private meeting: report Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Actor Chris Evans meets with Democratic senators before State of the Union MORE (Del.), are urging Pompeo to amend the policy. 

Previously, the State Department provided visas to the same-sex partners of diplomats even if they were unmarried, as same-sex marriage is illegal in many countries where diplomats are from. 

The revised policy ends the provision of these G-4 visas.  

"This new policy has the potential to be unnecessarily cruel and fails to take into account some of the challenges faced by same-sex couples around the world," the senators wrote in the letter

"To bar LGBTQ diplomats from bringing their partners to the United States is to condone the discriminatory policies of many countries around the world," they continue. "This new rule discriminates against diplomats from countries where same-sex marriage is still illegal." 

Diplomats would reportedly be eligible for “limited exceptions” under the Trump administration’s policy if they can prove they are from countries that outlaw same-sex partners, Foreign Policy reported earlier this month.

The senators acknowledged this but noted the "limited exceptions" rule "does not appear to be guaranteed and excludes those who are coming to the U.S. to work at international organizations." 

"Consular policies should never act as a deterrent for LGBTQ diplomats who want to represent their countries in the United States," the senators wrote.

The new policy requires diplomats and U.N. officials to provide evidence of legal marriage by the beginning of December or else leave the country within 30 days. 

There are currently at least 10 U.N. employees in the U.S. who either have to marry their partners or extend their partners' visas by the deadline, Foreign Policy reported.   

"I can confirm that we received the letter," a State Department spokesperson told The Hill. "We do not comment on Congressional correspondence and will respond to Congressional inquiries through appropriate channels."