- Michael LaMasa
Marriage or Bust
Announced today in an article published in USA Today, as of Monday, the Trump administration will halt visas for unmarried same-sex partners of diplomats and UN employees, requiring marriage to be eligible for a visa.
This policy is the same for heterosexual couples. Undoubtedly, the Trump administration will insist that they are operating under a presumption of fairness. Yet, we couldn't be further from it. What unmarried heterosexual couples have that same-sex couples do not is the right to get married wherever they want without persecution. What the Trump administration is ignoring are the large number of countries around the world that don't allow same-sex couples to marry. Some countries deny the right, while others go so far as making homosexuality itself illegal and punishable by harsh prison sentences or even death.
In Singapore, homosexuality is illegal and their Penal Code states that "any act of gross indecency with another male" in "public or private" can be punishable with a maximum sentence of two years in prison. As of 2017, 70 countries have laws against homosexuality. Of those 70 countries, the majority are African countries or majority-Muslim countries, carrying similar laws and punishments for such acts performed in public or in the privacy of your home.
Worse yet, according to an article published by an Australian news outlet in November 2017, 11 countries carry the death penalty for same-sex sexual acts. Those countries are Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and parts of Nigeria and Somalia. Additionally, countries such as Mauritania, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates have such laws, but do not appear to have enforced them.
For decades, The United States has been a safe harbor for victims of gross human rights violations in their home countries. The United States promises a home for those "huddled masses yearning to breathe free," but, do we? Policies like this target citizens from countries that have harsh homosexuality laws in place. Heartbreaking enough, the citizens in question are those working on behalf of both of our countries to bring the world a little closer together - for peace. These diplomats and UN employees are working on behalf of making this planet a better and safer place and have found safety here in the United States to not only do their work, but to live as they can not in their home countries alongside the people they love.
In order for these officials and diplomats to avoid family separation (a popular tactic in this administration), all these same sex couples have to do is to get married. Seems easy enough, right? But what happens if the country this diplomat is from doesn't allow same-sex marriage? They can't get married in their home countries, so their option is to get married here. But if they get married here in the United States, they run the risk of never being able to return to their home countries again, for fear of persecution or death. If they don't get married at all and their partners find themselves deported, they find themselves back in a country where their very existence is against the law.
Tell me again about those huddled masses...
The question on my mind is 'why?' What good does this do? What message are we sending to the world? And most importantly, what kind of country do we want to be? Personally, I want this country to be a place where those that are in danger of persecution or death for loving who they love can know the feeling of walking down the street without fear. The strength I feel is enough to let me stand up before my friends and loved ones and profess my love to my partner - who happens to be same gender as me - I want to share that with the world. We should be setting a positive example for this world when it comes to our LGBTQ citizens. And for those countries within which that example does not reach, we should give protection. Isn't that what America is all about?