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 PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget Tensions swirl around Iran as administration to brief Congress Overnight Defense: Iran tensions swirl as officials prepare to brief Congress | Trump threatens war would be 'end of Iran' | Graham tells Trump to 'stand firm' | Budget talks begin 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 CaseyWhy Congress needs to bring back tax deduction for worker expenses Biden cements spot as 2020 front-runner The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's bid gets under Trump's skin MORE (Pa.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs Dems request investigation of lobbyist-turned-EPA employee who met with former boss This week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination MORE (Ore.) and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsMnuchin says carbon capture tax credit guidance will be out soon Mnuchin signals administration won't comply with subpoena for Trump tax returns Menendez, Rubio lead Senate effort to regulate Venezuelan sanctions 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."