Trump administration halts visas for same-sex partners of diplomats, UN employees

Unmarried, same-sex partners of diplomats and U.N. employees have until the end the year to get married or leave the U.S.

President Donald Trump’s administration began denying visas to the unmarried, same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and officials and employees of the United Nations this week — making marriage a requirement to be eligible for a visa. same-sex partners of diplomats

The policy was made effective Monday.

It comes despite the fact that the majority of countries do not recognize same-sex marriage and many same-sex couples face prosecution in their own countries. 

The shift was detailed in a memo circulated at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York last month but unveiled in July, according to the State Department. 

The policy shift gives the same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and U.N. workers until the end of the year to get married or leave the country.

The State Department said in a briefing Tuesday that the policy will affect about 105 families in the USA, 55 of which have links to various international organizations. It was not clear how many foreign diplomats and U.N. employees with pending U.S. posts will be affected by the policy change.

 

Twelve percent of the 193 U.N. member states represented in New York allow same-sex marriage, according to Samantha Power, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who served under President Barack Obama. 

The Trump administration said the new policy is more consistent with the Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage. The heterosexual partners of foreign diplomats and U.N. employees are also not eligible for U.S. visas.

Critics of the move argued the policy would create hardship for gay couples from countries that ban same-sex marriage or offer only civil unions. Those who marry in the USA to secure their visa status could face criminal proceedings once they return to their home nations. 

“Those not yet in the country will need to show they’re married to secure a visa, potentially forcing those living in countries without marriage equality to choose between a posting at UN headquarters or family separation,” Akshaya Kumar, deputy U.N. director at Human Rights Watch, wrote in a blog post.

USAToday.com by Kim Hjelmagaard, October 5, 2019

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Judge Allows Religious-Based Michigan Adoption Agencies to Turn Away LGBT Couples

Religious-based adoption agencies that contract with the state of Michigan will be allowed to refuse to place children in LGBT homes under a preliminary injunction issued by a federal judge Thursday.

District Judge Robert Jonker in Grand Rapids Michigan blocked Democratic state Attorney General Dana Nessel, Michigan’s first openly gay statewide officeholder, from barring the faith-based agencies from excluding LGBT couples from adoption services.Michigan adoption LGBT

He said her action conflicted with state law, existing contracts and established practice. Nessel had, through a legal settlement between same-sex couples and the state Department of Health and Human Services, reversed the state’s stance earlier this year.

Michigan, like most states, contracts with private agencies to place children from troubled homes with new families.

Jonker, in issuing a preliminary injunction, said Lansing-based St. Vincent Catholic Charities’ longstanding practice of adhering to its religious beliefs and referring same-sex and unmarried couples to other agencies is not discriminatory.

Wanting to cancel the contract “strongly suggests the State’s real goal is not to promote non-discriminatory child placements, but to stamp out St. Vincent’s religious belief and replace it with the State’s own. … It would disrupt a carefully balanced and established practice that ensures non-discrimination in child placements while still accommodating traditional Catholic religious beliefs on marriage,” he wrote.

A spokeswoman for Nessel said her office was reviewing the decision to determine next steps.

Nessel in March announced an agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union to resolve a 2017 lawsuit filed by two lesbian couples. The settlement said a 2015 Republican-backed law that lets child-placement agencies not provide any services that conflict with their sincerely held religious beliefs does not apply if they are under contract with the state.

Time.com by David Eggert, September 27, 2019

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New NY legislation prevents courts from denying child adoptions to petitioners that are already legally-recognized parents

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he signed legislation (S.3999/A.460) prohibiting New York State courts from denying child adoptions to petitioners who are already a legally-recognized parent solely on that basis.

The bill, signed by Cuomo, protects parents whose names were not on the birth certificate, same-sex couples, and parents who had a child through surrogacy from being denied adoptions when the parent petitioning is already recognized as the child’s parent.parent adoption

“All parents deserve the same rights and the same recognition under the law – period – and it’s unconscionable that this isn’t the case in every corner of this nation,” Governor Cuomo said. “These new protections will help ensure that all families are treated with fairness and equality and that no parent encounters unreasonable barriers in a court of law.”

“We are thankful to the countless same-sex couples who provide loving homes for children across New York,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “Today’s action will protect the rights of these couples and furthers our commitment to ensure equality for the LGBTQ community.”

Senator Brad Hoylman said, “While New York’s laws provide strong legal protections for LGBTQ families like my own, sadly that’s not the case everywhere. With the passage of this law, we are reaffirming that non-biological parents have access to adoption proceedings in every New York court, regardless of whether state law already recognizes them as the legal parent of their children. By allowing these adoptions, we give parents traveling or moving outside New York State the opportunity to keep their families legally secure. I thank Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Velmanette Montgomery, and Assembly Member Amy Paulin for their work in passing this vital legislation, and Governor Cuomo for his continued support of the LGBTQ community.”

Assembly Member Amy Paulin said, “Despite the fact that judges already have the ability to grant adoption petitions and routinely have done so, there have been times where these petitions have been denied, causing surprise and stressful uncertainty for same-sex couples. With this law, we provide a guarantee and security that parents’ rights are recognized, both in New York and in other jurisdictions.”

While the spouse of a woman who gives birth to a child is presumed to be the child’s parent, same-sex couples find themselves in a legally precarious position when traveling beyond New York State, in places that do not fully respect the rights of non-biological parents. Under the new law, a New York adoption would be honored in another jurisdiction. This gives children the security that both their parents will be legally recognized wherever family members may be.

This new law takes effect immediately.

Click here to read the language of the Bill.

whcuradio.com, September 17, 2019

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Phoenix Business Can Refuse to Make Invitations for Same-Sex Couples

Phoenix Business Can Refuse to Make Invitations for Same-Sex Couples

With these fundamental principles in mind, today we hold that the City of Phoenix … cannot apply its Human Relations Ordinance … to force Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of Brush & Nib Studio, LC (“Brush & Nib”), to create custom wedding invitations celebrating same-sex wedding ceremonies in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs. Duka, Koski, and Brush & Nib (“Plaintiffs”) have the right to refuse to express such messages under article 2, section 6 of the Arizona Constitution, as well as Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act (“FERA”), A.R.S. § 41-1493.01.”Phoenix same sex

The case pitted the business owners against the city of Phoenix, with key elements including the concepts of artistic freedom, religious rights, and anti-discrimination laws.

The case began in May 2016, after Brush & Nib and its owners claimed that a Phoenix anti-discrimination law violated their artistic and religious freedom. They filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Artist Breanna Koski and calligrapher Joanna Duka founded Brush & Nib Studio in 2015. The company specializes in hand-painting and hand-lettering for weddings, special events, and home decor. They also sell ready-made products such as signs and thank-you cards.

“The rights of free speech and free exercise, so precious to this nation since its founding, are not limited to soft murmurings behind the doors of a person’s home or church, or private conversations with like-minded friends and family,” wrote Justice Andrew Gould for the majority. “These guarantees protect the right of every American to express their beliefs in public. This includes the right to create and sell words, paintings, and art that express a person’s sincere religious beliefs.

The business owners said that Phoenix City Code 18-4(B)(1)-(3) prevented them from exercising artistic and religious freedom by requiring that they create wedding invitations for same-sex couples.

Adopted in 2013, the ordinance prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability. It applies to businesses offering services to the general public.

Brush & Nib Studio is represented by Scottsdale-based Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal advocacy and training group founded in 1994 to promote what it calls religious freedom, marriage and family, and the sanctity of life.

The Alliance Defending Freedom has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which condemns the alliance for its “anti-LGBT ideology.”

The alliance’s clients include Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012. That case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, went all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. In June 2018, the court ruled in Phillips’ favor in a 7-2 decision.

The Alliance Defending Freedom announced that it intends to hold a press conference with the Brush & Nib owners this afternoon.

phoenixnewstimes.com by Lynn Trimble, September 16, 2019

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Gay married couple sues after daughter denied U.S. citizenship

The Maryland couple’s infant daughter was born in Canada to a surrogate mother earlier this year.

A gay married couple in Maryland is suing to challenge the State Department’s refusal to recognize the U.S. citizenship of their infant daughter, who was born in Canada to a surrogate mother this year.

gay married couple

Photo Courtesy of Immigration Equality.

The federal lawsuit, filed Thursday, says a State Department policy unlawfully treats the children of married same-sex couples as if they were born out of wedlock.

The plaintiffs, Roee and Adiel Kiviti, had their first child, Lev, in 2016; he was born in Canada via surrogacy and has had U.S. citizenship since birth. However, their second child, Kessem, was born in 2019, after the Trump administration began enforcing the Immigration and Nationality Act’s provision that children born “out of wedlock” do not automatically obtain U.S. citizenship.

 

The State Department’s application team has in several cases categorized the children of same-sex couples that use fertility services, like sperm donors and surrogacy, as born “out of wedlock.” An attorney for the Kiviti family says their suit is at least the fourth such case to challenge the policy.

Immigration Equality, an LGBTQ immigration advocacy group, is leading the court effort to gain birthright citizenship for these children. The organization is working with the Kivitis and the other three known families suing the State Department for the same reason: Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks; Allison Blixt and Stefania Zaccari; and Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg.

NBCNews.com by The Associated Press and Tim Fitzsimmons, Septemeber 12, 2019

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China’s Parliament Says No to Marriage Equality

Political leader says changing law would go against “cultural traditions”

Barely three months after Taiwan solidified same-sex marriage rights, political leaders in Beijing are shutting down any discussion of extending those rights to the Chinese mainland.China's parliament

Zang Tiewei, a spokesperson for China’s Parliament, told reporters during a recent press conference that Chinese law only allows for marriage between a man and a woman.

The discussion surrounding marriage rights in China is surfacing at a time of political uncertainty in Hong Kong, where protests have persisted for months over controversial extradition legislation and other political issues related to the future of the “one country, two systems” model under which the territory is governed.

Emboldened activists in Hong Kong have also set their sights on marriage rights in the former British territory, where a nonprofit organization called Hong Kong Marriage Equality was launched earlier this month, according to the South China Morning Post. Activists there are embarking on a campaign to educate Chinese people about LGBTQ rights and warm them up to the idea of same-sex marriage.

There have been some signs of progress for LGBTQ rights in Hong Kong in particular. China’s Court of Final Appeal earlier this summer ruled that same-sex partners in the city can file joint tax returns and that gay civil servants have a right to spousal benefits like healthcare coverage.

But no such progress appears on the horizon on the mainland. Tiewei, according to Reuters, stated that existing law “suits our country’s national condition and historical and cultural traditions. As far as I know, the vast majority of countries in the world do not recognize the legalization of same-sex marriage.”

Evan Wolfson, who spent years at the forefront of the American fight for marriage equality as the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, isn’t buying Tiewei’s cultural justification for rejecting the rights of same-sex couples in China.

gaycitysnew.com by Matt Tracy, August 23, 2019

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Anti-Gay Tomi Lahren Dragged for Trying to Use LGBTQ People as an Issue Against AOC and ‘The Squad’

Tomi Lahren, the Fox Nation host who’s been mocked as “white power Barbie,” could also be called anti-LGBT Tomi. Time and time again, often out of the blue, Lahren has railed against the LGBTQ community.

But now Lahren is getting slammed for a tweet she posted, trying to use LGBTQ people as an issue against the progressive Congresswomen known as “The Squad,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (MN), Ayanna Pressley (MA), and Rashida Tlaib (MI).Lehren

Lahren posted a link to a Fox News article, “Palestinian Authority bans LGBTQ activities in West Bank, reports say.”

If Lahren were an LGBBTQ supporter, advocate, or ally, perhaps her taunt might have worked, a bit, but she’s not.

Just two weeks ago, after the El Paso and Dayton mass shooting massacres, Lahren tried to use the LGBTQ community to advance her extremist pro-gun agenda, claiming gun rights are gay rights. It bombed.

A month ago Lahren told World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe, that she’s actually not a hero.

Earlier this year Lahren stoked outrage when she lied, falsely claiming “The Left” says “we MUST be tolerant of Sharia Law” and “stoning of gays.”

And in February Lahren went ballistic – out of the blue slamming the LGBT community for “this ongoing and continual assault on masculinity and “attacking traditional men and marriage at every turn.”

So, it’s not surprising that Lahren got totally dragged Monday for her latest ignorant tweet.

Take a look:

www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com, August 19, 2019 by David Badesh

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Babies and broken hearts: Ukraine’s commercial surrogacy industry leaves a trail of disasters

This is the moment. I arrive at the Sonechko Children’s Home, a collection of rundown double-story brick buildings in a city south east of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital.

I’m here to meet a little girl I’ve been searching for over the past six months.

She’s been abandoned by the very people who paid for her to be born — her American parents.Australia surrogacy

Now she’s an orphan and has disabilities which require medical attention.

Marina Boyko, the flame-haired nurse who’s cared for the little girl since she was a baby, is taking us to meet her.

The door to the child’s room opens and the emotion hits hard.

My investigation began last year.

“Have any foreigners left a baby behind?” I asked.

It was a simple question and an obvious one.

“An American couple left one last year,” came the answer.

I hung up the phone to my source in Kiev and so began months of work to find a baby born via a surrogate in Ukraine and then abandoned by the American parents.

Sadly, I was familiar with this kind of story.

Back in 2014, I found Gammy, a baby boy whose birth was “commissioned” by an Australian couple.

They left him behind in Thailand to be cared for by his surrogate mother.

The couple only wanted to bring Gammy’s twin sister home.

Again, the child was left behind by his Australian parents after they decided they’d only take his twin sister home. I never found him.

These were just some of the horror stories which prompted Thailand and India to ban commercial surrogacy for foreigners.

As a result, Ukraine is quickly becoming the “hot” new surrogacy destination.

But while the country has changed, the story remains the same.

I’m now hearing there’s a child who’s been abandoned in Ukraine. I know that finding her won’t be easy.

Then I searched for a baby boy in India on assignment for Foreign Correspondent in 2015.

After countless phone calls, finally there’s a breakthrough.

With the help of local Ukrainian journalists, we find out the child we’re looking for is alive and being cared for in a town called Zaporizhzhya — a large industrial centre south-east of the capital, Kiev.

It’s a leap of faith, but we book flights from London and make the journey.

We don’t know what we’ll see or what we’ll be able to film, but sometimes being on the ground is the only way.

We’re directed to the Sonechko Children’s Home on the edge of the city, where some 200 children live.

When we arrive, it’s eerily quiet. There’s no children’s chatter or laughter, not a cry, not a squeal. It’s like they’ve been silenced for our benefit.

The staff know we are coming but they are wary. We know this first visit will be about building trust.

They invite us in and we interview them about a child they speak of with deep and genuine affection, but we are told we cannot see her as she is sick and quarantined in a nearby hospital.

August 19, 2019, by abc.net.au, Samantha Hawley

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A Gay Couple Had To Flee Russia For The Crime Of Caring For Their Adopted Children

The gay couple, who had to leave Russia after authorities threatened to take away their 12- and 14-year-old sons, spoke with Russian-language outlet Meduza about their plight.

When Andrey Vaganov’s 12-year-old son complained of stomach pains in June, the ambulance rushed him to one of Russia’s top pediatric hospitals. The ache turned out to be nothing, but while there, the child told the hospital staff that he and his brother don’t have a mother who lives with them — they have two fathers.russia gay

The revelation that Vaganov and his partner, Evgeny Erofeyev, have been raising their adopted sons together for nearly a decade put them squarely in the crosshairs of the Russian authorities. Since then, the couple have had to flee the country with their two sons, accused of breaking Russia’s infamous “gay propaganda law” simply by letting their children know that they are married. The law, which makes teaching minors about LGBTQ issues illegal, didn’t pass until 2013, years after the children were adopted. Since then, it has been used as a weapon against the gay community in Russia more broadly, allowing for state-sanctioned harassment of activists and persecution of individuals like Vaganov and Erofeyev.

In an interview with Ivan Golunov, an investigative reporter with Meduza, an independent Russian-language news outlet, the couple explained how they became targets of Russia’s anti-gay laws. Vaganov had adopted his elder son, Denis, in 2009, and then his second, Yuri, two and a half years later. It was around that time that Vaganov met and soon married Erofeyev, a businessman like himself, in a ceremony in Denmark, which recognizes same-sex marriages.

gay russia“We never asked our children to hide anything,” Vaganov told Meduza. “This was our conscious position, explaining why is it somehow stigmatizing and so on.” But Yuri’s admission to the hospital staff was a complication — before the child left the hospital, Vaganov was told that he and his son would need to report to the police the next morning to answer some questions. The two showed up as requested to meet with an investigator and a juvenile affairs official, with Vaganov insisting that his lawyer be present.

By the time the first interview was over, what had started as a false alarm caused by Yuri eating too much had become a news story. While carrying out his questioning, Vaganov said, the investigator handling the “preinvestigation check” frequently had to step out of the room to speak with his superiors. Soon Vaganov’s phone began to ring with journalists who had learned about the situation from a Telegram channel known for publishing confidential details about Russian law enforcement’s investigations.

Buzzfeednews.com, by Hayes Brown – August 12. 2109

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Opinion – The Latest Victims of Trump’s Cruelty? Foster Children and Gay Families

An administration proposal would make it easier to discriminate against gay families who want to adopt through the foster care system.

“I know a way out of hell,” says Ben Kingsley, as Mohandas Gandhi, in Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film.

He’s speaking to a Hindu man who has killed a Muslim child, to even the score after his own son has been murdered.gay foster

“Find a child, a child whose mother and father were killed, and raise him as your own. Only be sure that he is a Muslim, and that you raise him as one.”

The first time I saw that movie, 37 years ago, that scene took my breath away, and not only because of Mr. Kingsley’s performance, for which he won an Academy Award. What has also lingered with me is the idea that the mission of parenthood is not to raise a child to be another version of you, but to help that child become himself or herself.

Donald Trump probably hasn’t seen that movie — or if he has, its message was lost on him. That would explain why his administration is enacting policies that enshrine discrimination and cruelty in foster care and adoption for gay families.

On any given day in this country, close to 440,000 children are in foster care, awaiting reunification with their original families or placement with new adoptive parents. You’d think that any qualified parents willing to make the enormous commitment to bringing a foster child into their home would be welcomed, hailed as heroes.

But then maybe you forgot the Trump mantra: Cruelty always comes first.

Incredibly, this is never so true as when children are concerned. We’ve seen it at the border, where immigrant children are separated from their parents and put in cages. We’ve seen it in the decimation of the Education Department, whose budget he has attempted to cut for three years running.

And we see it in a new policy under consideration to make it easier for adoption agencies to discriminate against parents — against non-Christians, against same-sex couples, against anyone, really, who doesn’t fit the agencies’ particular definition of what makes a family.

In January, the administration granted a waiver to Miracle Hill Ministries in South Carolina, exempting it from the Obama-era requirement that adoption agencies receiving federal funding must be accepting of all families. Which means that Miracle Hill — the state’s largest provider of foster families for children who don’t have significant special needs — can now turn away non-Christian foster parents and mentors, and anyone else who doesn’t pass muster.

NYTimes.com, By

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