A majority of sixty House Democrats are urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to lift the State Department's blanket prohibition on U.S. diplomats lobbying for gay marriage in a formal capacity.
The lawmakers' request came after testimony in June by Scott Busby, the acting chief deputy assistant secretary of the Department of State's Bureau on Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and Labor, who stated the department's policy is not to "advocate for or against same-sex marriage overseas."
In a letter Blinken in a letter addressed Blinken on Wednesday the lawmakers said that the policies were "outdated" and should be "rescinded as a matter of urgency."
"We do not ask the State Department to speak to marriage in every country or context," the officials have written. "But we do ask the Department to provide the opportunity to U.S. personnel to defend our values and the dignity of our LGBTQI families at appropriate moments when the power of our example might make a meaningful difference."
The campaign is supported by a total of from the support of 61 Democrats and is directed by members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which includes Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, Rep. Dina Titus from Nevada as well as Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who is one of the who are openly LGBTQ lawmakers in Congress.
The U.S. Supreme Court legalized the same-sex marriage in 2015 as well as 28 countries that have followed suit and have done similar, which includes Asia in addition to Central America.
In other countries in 71 other countries, sexual relationships are viewed as criminalized in the opinion of Human Dignity Trust, a international advocacy group dedicated to LGBTQ rights. In 11 of these countries which include Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iran homosexuality is punished with death according to the group.
The lawmakers noted the issue in their letters that several nations "are not at the point" to allow gay marriages, "where marriage is a significant public issue abroad, we trust you would want your Administration to be standing on the right side of history."
Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, an advocacy group in Washington which promotes LGBTQ rights in other countries, agreed with the statement, saying it was the case that U.S. diplomats should be informing international lawmakers about the need to pass the same-sex marriage law in countries where it's considered a "real possibility," including Japan, Chile and the Czech Republic.
"It might have made sense 20 years ago, but now we're at a point where there are countries where having the U.S. speak up and explain our own path to marriage equality could make a difference," Bromley stated.
He added, however, that this policy "came from a good place," saying that in nations which homosexuality remains a crime the idea of gay marriage could deter legislators from allowing same-sex relationships to be legalized.
"What the embassies have to do first and foremost is listen to the LGBTQI community and ask them, 'What can we do that would be helpful or not helpful?'" Bromley said.
In his presidential bid for 2020, Joe Biden pledged to push for the globalization of LGBTQ rights and end his administration's Trump administration's "utter failure to defend American diplomats who speak out for LGBTQ+ rights abroad."
In February, President Trump issued a memorandum that aimed to "promote and protect the human rights" of LGBTQ people across the globe. The memorandum also urged U.S. agencies to review and repeal "inconsistent directives" that counter the administration's goal of expanding LGBTQ rights across the globe.
An State Department spokesperson told NBC News that the department is "giving the question our fullest consideration, but, married or not, LGBTQI+ couples and their families are valid and valuable."