published Friday, August 2nd, 2013

U.S. eases process for same-sex couples to get visas

Secretary of State John Kerry gives policy address on same-sex spouses applying for U.S. visas on Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, at the U.S. Embassy in London.
Secretary of State John Kerry gives policy address on same-sex spouses applying for U.S. visas on Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, at the U.S. Embassy in London.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Secretary of State John Kerry tries to clarify comment on Egypt

LONDON — Secretary of State John Kerry sought Friday to clarify controversial remarks he made about the crisis in Egypt.

Kerry said in a TV interview Thursday the Egyptian military did not take over when it ousted President Mohammed Morsi. Kerry told Geo TV in Pakistan the military was “restoring democracy” in Egypt.

The Egyptian military threw out Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, in a coup on July 3. The military has established a civilian government and called elections for next year.

Kerry’s comment was seen by some as a signal the U.S. was siding with the military, even though the State Department has repeatedly said the U.S. is not taking sides.

A spokesman of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Gehad el-Haddad, denounced Kerry’s remarks.

“Does Secretary Kerry accept Defense Secretary (Chuck) Hagel to step in and remove (US President Barak) Obama if large protests take place in America?” El-Haddad said.

Kerry said Friday in London that all of the parties — the military as well as pro-Morsi supporters — should be inclusive and work toward a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

“The last thing that we want is more violence,” he said. “The temporary government has a responsibility with respect to demonstrators to give them the space to be able to demonstrate in peace. But at the same time, the demonstrators have a responsibility not to stop everything from proceeding in Egypt.”

Egypt’s state television says security authorities will impose a siege over the protest camps of deposed President Mohammed Morsi’s supporters, a step before clearing them.

LONDON — The U.S. State Department on Friday began processing visa applications from same-sex spouses in the same way that it handles those from heterosexual spouses.

The change, announced by Secretary of State John Kerry while on diplomatic travel in London, comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on same-sex marriage.

Kerry said that if someone is the spouse of a U.S. citizen, or is the spouse of a non-citizen, their visa applications now will be treated equally. And if a person is in a country that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, their visa application will still be treated equally at all 222 visa processing centers around the world.

“Effective immediately, when same-sex spouses apply for a visa, the Department of State will consider that application in the same manner that it considers the application of opposite-sex spouses,” Kerry said.

“As long as a marriage has been performed in a jurisdiction that recognizes it, so that it is legal, then that marriage is valid under U.S. immigration laws and every married couple will be treated exactly the same,” he said.

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