It has been a strange week. For starters, Donald Trump announced that after an on-again, off-again rollercoaster relationship, he and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un are officially an item now.
“I was really being tough and so was he,” Trump told a rally of supporters in West Virginia. “And we would go back and forth. And then we fell in love. No really. He wrote me beautiful letters.”
Isn’t it romantic? Or, at least, it would be if Trump knew how to read.
Boy, are Republicans going to be mad when they learn that Trump is gay!
I’m kidding, of course. Well, kind of. It’s striking that Republicans would probably freak out if Trump came out as gay, but they have no problem with him embracing authoritarian dictators who murder and starve their people. #SquadGoals
In other words, in Republicanica, being gay is bad, but being a murderous dictator shows that you’re a macho man who gets things done!
This is an important distinction, given the news that the Trump administration has begun “denying visas to same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations employees, and requiring those already in the United States to get married by the end of the year or leave the country,” according to foreignpolicy.com.
Now, on the surface, this might not seem like a big deal. I mean, opposite-sex couples can’t get visas for their partners if they’re not married, and marriage equality is the law of the land in the U.S., so this change just makes everything equal, right?
Wrong. Let’s not kid ourselves.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power tweeted on Sept. 28: “Needlessly cruel & bigoted: State Dept. will no longer let same-sex domestic partners of UN employees get visas unless they are married. But only 12% of UN member states allow same-sex marriage.”
Only 12 percent. That’s, um, really low. If a doctor told you that your chances of survival were 12 percent, you’d better have all of your affairs in order.
But these same-sex couples can just get married in the U.S. where it’s legal, right? No big deal — just take the “I do” plunge!
Except it’s not that easy. Not only do most United Nations member countries not allow same-sex couples to marry but, according to Fortune, “in more than 70, same-sex relationships are punishable by law.”
According to Akshaya Kumar, deputy United Nations director at Human Rights Watch, in these 70-plus countries, “homosexual conduct remains illegal and in many, anyone found ‘guilty’ can be sentenced to harsh punishments including years in prison or even public caning.”
Morocco, which has thrown gay men in prison, and Malaysia, where a lesbian couple was recently subjected to a public caning, are just two examples.
“The U.S. government should recognize, as it had for almost nine years until today, that requiring a marriage as proof of bona fide partnership is a bad and cruel policy, one that replicates the terrible discrimination many LGBT people face in their own countries,” writes Kumar, “and should be immediately reversed.”
This policy, writes Kumar, “may make it impossible for some LGBT UN staff to live together with their partners in the United States.”
Not that the Trump administration cares about keeping families together. “Bad and cruel” policies are the administration’s specialty. After all, the U.S. is still keeping immigrant children away from their parents, warehoused in tent cities. Something that should be a five-alarm outrage receiving wall-to-wall coverage, but has to compete with the nonstop barrage of scandals coming from this administration. Not to mention the gross inequities in our criminal-justice system that tears and keeps families, a vast proportion of which are racial minorities, apart.
All of which makes it easy to overlook something like discrimination against LGBTQ United Nations staff disguised as a benevolent push toward equality.
Getting married for some of these couples is not a safe option. A legal, public marriage might put them in real danger — the kind of danger that same-sex couples in the U.S., though certainly facing backlash under the Trump regime, don’t have to worry about.
This is the kind of move you’d expect to see in a place like Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Then again, Trump has declared his love for him, too. It’s an alarming pattern. Vote on Nov. 6 like lives depend on it. Because they do.
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.