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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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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Trump has a devastating record on LGBTQ rights. Don’t deny the truth.

President Trump’s dismissal of “fake news” means his constituencies can believe whatever they want about him and his actions — even if their beliefs are in mind-bogglingly stark opposition to one another.

Religious extremists opposed to LGBTQ equality can confidently tout Trump as being down with their agenda by pointing to a speech in February in which Trump defended state-funded adoption agencies that turn away gay couples on religious grounds. Trump supporters who want to believe the opposite will point to a tweet he sent recognizing “LGBT Pride Month.”Trump LGBTQ

But it’s the religious crusaders who are correct — and in rare agreement with most LGBTQ activists. The Trump administration’s continued assaults on LGBTQ rights are nothing short of breathtaking. And yet, Trump’s supporters who don’t want to acknowledge this aspect of the administration find ways to bury this part of his record in the chaos.

Last week alone, there were two major salvos in the Trumpian war on LGBTQ Americans.

The Justice Department filed a brief Friday urging the Supreme Court to allow employers to turn away or fire transgender workers based solely on their gender identity. The department is expected to file a similar brief this week in a separate case asking the high court to legalize discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual workers, as well.

On Aug. 14, the Labor Department proposed a rule rolling back an executive order that President Barack Obama signed in 2014 banning anti-LGBTQ discrimination among federal contractors — an order that the Trump administration said in 2017 would remain “intact.” The religious right was ecstatic, while Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called the regulation “a broad and sweeping effort to implement a license to discriminate.”

Yet, in the same week, in a stellar example of Trump supporters believing whatever they want, the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of “LGBT Republicans and straight allies,” announced its endorsement of Trump’s reelection bid in an op-ed in The Post. It was a particularly striking decision, given that in 2016, the group declined to endorse him . Now, it astonishingly declared, Trump has moved “past the culture wars” and taken “bold actions that benefit the LGBTQ community.”

What planet has this group been living on? And what has changed since the Log Cabin Republicans declined to endorse George W. Bush in 2004 over his support of a federal constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality? Trump’s record distinguishes him as among the most hostile presidents in history on the issue of LGBTQ equality. He is bowing to religious extremists in the GOP base in ways that could set back more than 30 years of progress, backing their demands for religious exemptions allowing discrimination. Even Bush, a devout evangelical Christian, didn’t roll back his predecessor’s pro-gay executive orders, such as one that President Bill Clinton signed banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in the federal workforce.

But Trump began unraveling Obama-era progress on LGBTQ rights almost immediately. Within its first weeks, his administration withdrew an Obama directive on treatment of transgender students. A few months later, Trump fired off a tweet announcing that he’d reinstate a ban — which Obama had ended — on transgender people serving in the military. This year, the Department of Health and Human Services moved to strip anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in the Affordable Care Act.

WashingtonPost.com, August 20, 2019 by Michelangelo Signorile

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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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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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What it means for nontraditional families to see themselves represented in the 2020 presidential field

Throughout most of American history, people didn’t really give the president’s family much thought.  The 2020 presidential field changed that.

The 2020 presidential field is unique.  But starting in the ’50s, American society greatly emphasized the idea of the family as the antidote to the psychological pain of the Depression and war. The first family became America’s royals.2020 presidential field

Yet many of those families who occupied the White House, at least in modern times, have largely looked the same: a heterosexual couple who have been long married, a couple of kids, and a dog.

That is beginning to change. Besides being the most diverse field of presidential contenders in the history of U.S. elections — men and women; black, brown, and white — the families of the 2020 presidential field represent a range of experiences, giving modern American families a new and different idea of what a first family can look like.

Kamala Harris, a senator from California, is a stepmother — her two stepchildren call her Momala.” Elizabeth Warren, a senator from Massachusetts, is divorced and remarried but still uses her first husband’s surname. And like Sen. Lindsey Graham, who ran for the Republican nomination in 2016, Sen. Cory Booker is unmarried. So is single mother Marianne Williamson. If either took the White House, they’d be the first single president since Grover Cleveland, who got married in his first term. The only president who was single his entire term was James Buchanan.

Perhaps most notably in this field, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg is married to a man. Less than five years after marriage equality became the law of the land, an openly gay candidate is a serious contender for president.

“It’s one of the most stunning turnarounds in public opinion that we’ve ever seen,” said Stephanie Coontz, director of research at the Council on Contemporary Families at the University of Texas. What that means for children with same-sex parents can’t be overstated, she said. “My gosh, to have a model and feel like ‘I don’t have to be ashamed of my parents. They could run for president.’ That’s got to be a powerful thing.”

It is for Alison Pottage, an immigrant from Scotland who recently became a citizen and who, in 2014, married Anita, the woman she’d loved for more than 15 years. Today, the couple lives in Oreland, Montgomery County, with their two kids, 13 and 11.

“How exciting is it that American culture has matured to the point of recognizing that there’s more than one way to skin this cat, that there isn’t a sort of one-size-fits-all,” said Pottage, 44. “And how much better for politics and for society that you’ve got people making decisions that have experienced multiple ways of being and living and growing in this society.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer, by Anna Orso, August 5, 2019

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Bulgaria Court Recognizes Gay Marriage in Landmark Case

A court in Bulgaria has ruled in favor of a same-sex couple who married in France, in a case that recognized gay marriage for the first time in the conservative country.

Bulgaria gayAustralian citizen Kristina Palma, who married Mariama Dialo of France in 2016, was initially permitted to live, work and travel in Bulgaria and the European Union on the grounds that she married an EU citizen. But Bulgaria later denied her those rights, arguing that same-sex marriage was not legal in the country.

The couple fought a two-year battle that concluded Wednesday, when the court affirmed Palma’s rights as the spouse of an EU citizen.

Their lawyer Denitsa Lyubenova said the ruling could be an important first step toward legalizing same-sex marriage in the country.

 

By Associated Press via VOANews.com, July 25, 2019

U.S. Couple Sues State Dept. Over Policy That Denied Citizenship To Their Baby

An American couple’s daughter, who was born abroad with the help of a surrogate, was denied citizenship. Her parents, two gay men, are suing for discrimination.

This summer, James Derek Mize and his husband, Jonathan Gregg, celebrated their daughter’s first birthday at home in Atlanta with a party that coincided with WorldPride. Dressed in a rainbow outfit, the birthday girl, Simone, did what toddlers are bound to do: Took a fleeting glance at her presents and instead found delight in her favorite “toy,” an outdoor water hose.

denied citizenship

It was a memorable day for the parents. It was also a respite from the looming reality that Simone, who was born abroad with the help of a surrogate, would soon be at risk of being removed from the country that is her home.

“I try not to think about ICE coming to our door and deporting our baby,” Mr. Mize said in an interview last week. “That is a pretty hard thing to think about.”

On Tuesday, the couple filed a discrimination lawsuit against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the department’s decision to deny citizenship to Simone, even though both Mr. Mize and Mr. Gregg are American.

Their case, highlighted in a New York Times article in May, has drawn renewed attention to a State Department policy for children born abroad through assisted reproductive technology, which has come under scrutiny in recent months for its effect on same-sex couples. In June, nearly 100 Democratic members of Congress called on Mr. Pompeo to reverse the policy, which they called “cruel” and “deeply disturbing.”

Mr. Mize was born and raised in the United States. Mr. Gregg was born in Britain to an American mother, making him an American citizen as well. The couple, who married in 2015 in the United States, decided to start a family with the help of a close British friend, who offered to be their surrogate. Simone was born in Britain last year, using a donor egg and the sperm of her British-born father.

But when the family returned to their home in the Atlanta area and later applied for Simone’s American passport, she was denied citizenship.

The family was subject to a State Department policy that places an emphasis on biology when considering citizenship at birth. If the source of the sperm and egg do not match her married parents, the case can be treated as “out of wedlock,” which comes with a higher bar to citizenship.

In their case, Mr. Gregg, who moved to the United States to be with his husband, did not meet a five-year residency requirement. His lawyers say that requirement would not have applied if the case had rightfully been treated as in wedlock.

nytimes.com. July 23, 2019 by Sarah Mervoch

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