CNN Commentator Slams Trump's Record on Gay Rights: 'To Credibly Be Called Leader of the Free World, You Have to Actually Stand Up for Freedom'

CNN Senior Political Analyst John Avlon has slammed President Donald Trump for his record on LGBTQ rights, saying, "To credibly be called leader of the free world, you have to actually stand up for freedom."

Avlon was speaking on Wednesday morning's "Reality Check" segment on the CNN show New Day. He was reacting to the news that the Trump administration will no longer grant visas to the same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats and U.N. officials. The policy went into effect on October 1, reversing a policy that has been in place since 2009.

"As in so many other cases, the Trump administration's stated purpose seems innocuous," Avlon said. "Gay marriage is allowed in the United States, so why allow same-sex partners when unmarried heterosexual partners are not allowed in the country? But that ignores what it would do to diplomats from the many countries that do not recognize gay marriage or, much worse, still criminalize being gay."

Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power described the decision, which arrived with little prior announcement, as "needlessly cruel and bigoted" when same-sex marriage is legalized in only 12 percent of U.N. member states. CNN suggested it was less than 10%.

Under the new law, same-sex partners of diplomats already in the U.S. will have to leave, get married or acquire a new visa. For same-sex partners of diplomats yet to arrive from countries where this isn't possible, they may be prohibited from entry, although a senior State Department official suggested to the BBC that the department would be willing to hear individual cases.

Avlon placed the latest policy in the broader context of the Trump administration's approach to LGBTQ communities. Since promising in his campaign to do "everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens," Trump has reinstated the ban on transgender people openly serving in the military; nominated federal judges with "anti-LGBTQ records," according to Lambda Legal; and defended the right of religious business owners to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

Avlon said that, in combination with Trump's anti-immigration rhetoric and policies, such actions are harming America's position on the global stage.

"A troubling new Pew research survey shows that the global image of the United States has plummeted to historic lows since Trump took office," Avlon said. "It's a reminder that to credibly be called leader of the free world, you have to actually stand up for freedom."