Sometimes a seemingly small change has large negative consequences. And so it is with a revision to American policy that the Trump administration is implementing at the United Nations.
The change, which took effect last week, is to reverse a policy that dates to 2009 and allows foreign diplomats who are gay and who are posted to the United States to bring their partners when they move to the U.S. The policy affects a small number of people and was enacted, in part, because it’s the right thing to do and because it’s a smart approach to diplomacy.
Regardless of whether these couples can be married in their home countries, the United States has an interest in fostering strong diplomatic relationships across the globe. By extending a courtesy to gay couples to move here, the U.S. engaged in an easy, risk-free way to lay the groundwork for working relationships with the very people who carry out international diplomacy.
By risk-free, we mean the administration isn’t alleging that the policy has created security risks by allowing dangerous people to enter the country or has otherwise imperiled Americans or American interests.
Rather it seems to be part of a broader strategy to revise policy to tighten immigration policies at every turn, in order to create a system that cuts against even legal immigration.
The larger danger here is that the United States comes across as intolerant and unwilling to engage on a human level with the diplomats who have been dispatched to our country. The U.S. is a strong nation, but there is no reason for it to be hard-hearted toward the same-sex partners of diplomats. In fact, there is every reason to be diplomatic, to be welcoming to these couples.