In a move that will shock none, but will likely enrage and dishearten the LGBTQ community in American and beyond, as of Monday the Trump administration has brought into effect a policy which halts the issuing of visas to same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and UN employees unless they are married. They claim that the move is intended to harmonise with the Supreme Court's fairly recent legalisation of marriage and bestow these *lucky* couples with all of the corresponding rights of their married heterosexual counterparts.
The framing of the decision as one born out of benevolence is a particularly transparent and disingenuous pettiness of a government that cannot even be bothered to disguise its own contempt for some of its marginalised. Some of these foreign diplomats are natives of countries that criminalise same sex marriage, and the ultimatum is effectively one that would result in, at best, a marriage not recognised by their home governments, and at worst, their de facto criminalisation in their places of origin.
That some retaliatory consequence would follow so hotly on the heels of the UN's laughter is unsurprising. Trump has again founded US policy in petty response to his own continued personal humiliation and it strikes as simply a continuation of his streak of violent immaturity, if the event is viewed in isolation as a move against just the UN. But perhaps what's most noteworthy of all is that its victims by very design are yet again LGBT people.
This is unmistakably another one of the barefaced assaults that make up a pattern of US government-sanctioned violence against the LGBT community. LGBT people, and particularly those of colour, are one of this administration’s low hanging fruit of choice. In February, Trump's proposed 2019 budgets slashed domestic aid, and in particular slashed funding for HIV/AIDS research, treatment and prevention Initiatives – a decision likely to hit poor, of colour LGBT Americans, who are already disproportionately represented in existing HIV/AIDS cases and new diagnoses.
And in March, Trump's administration issued a memo that stated trans people were to be disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances – a bigoted policy which (if possibly setting aside for a moment the violent imperialism of the US military) was likely designed to further the stigma and marginalisation of trans people, who make up an infinitesimal percentage of military personnel.
As November's midterms close in on us, LGBT people provide an easy dog whistle signal to the members of Trump's more radically conservative support base – one that thinks us immoral, and undeserving of civil rights, protections, and resources. Gestures like these denote Trump's feelings and by extension, his administration's likely course of actions with regards to LGBT people. Policy has consistently pointed towards the administration’s views that the rights of this community are of low priority and bring no value to the government. Ultimately, like Trump, they too seem to think we are morally bankrupt, deserving of violence, and entirely disposable.
That the government is able to frame this as a desire to bestow the rights and privileges of heterosexual married couples on queer ones, is perhaps one of the worrying natural conclusions of gay marriage equality discourse: Good queers must marry, assimilate, or wither. There is no alternative.
Any rights enshrined in, or bestowed upon by marriage, can never be truly equitable for all citizens. The end point of our queer activism should work to decouple these rights from the archaic institution of marriage. All the data suggests that more and more young people in romantic relationships both in the UK and in the US, are no longer feeling the need to walk down the altar before letting their lives begin in earnest.
There have always been, and perhaps more visible now than ever, just as stable family structures absent of heteronormative marriage. Divorces are costly and mounting, and the increased visibility of dysfunctional traditional homes and marriages in reality tv and media, are rebutting our long socialised presumptions of marriage's magical stability. We are seeing a rise in non-romantic family cohabitations, and every conceivable configuration of homes that might provide a suitable foundation for family raising and personal flourishing without the need for marriage certificates.
If LGBT people in America and beyond are to flourish, the words and violence of Trump's administration must be widely and vocally resisted, both in the ballot box and by means of direct action where effective and possible.
The repercussions and costs of this administration to LGBT people will likely be felt for generations to come. Our struggle could not have ever ended with equal marriage, the simple fact is that it was only ever a starting point. We stand on the shoulders of rebellious giants, of no-nonsense, Stonewall rioters – of our queer ancestors – and we must fight harder than ever if we are to emerge from the shadow of this presidency stronger and more resilient than ever.
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