White House 'omitted' spouse of gay PM, but Muslim and immigrant first ladies survived 'expulsion'

How it managed to 'miss' Destenay, who is clearly visible as the only man smiling and wearing a dark suit, will remain a mystery.

 |  8-minute read |   29-05-2017
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The White House in Trumpland has turned "oh so crimson of late" that it seems to have decided to not just make gaffes but be "Trumpish" about it as well.

The official residence and workplace of the president of the United States — The White House — took 10 hours to digest the fact that gay marriages are a reality and can be legal as well.

Recently, it had to amend a caption on an official photo of Melania Trump posing with NATO leaders' spouses after it omitted the name of the gay husband of Luxembourg's Prime Minister (10 hours after it was originally posted).

luxemburg_052917081759.jpgThe White House managed to overlook Destenay, who is clearly visible smiling and wearing a dark suit, standing behind Melania Trump’s right shoulder.

The original photo caption read: First Lady Melania Trump poses with Belgium's Queen Mathilde, center, and other spouses of NATO leaders: First Lady Emine Erdogan of Turkey; Iceland's Thora Margret Baldvinsdottir; the First Lady of France Brigitte Trogneux; First Lady Melania Trump; Slovenia's Mojca Stropnik; Bulgaria's Desislava Radeva; Belgium's Amelie Derbaudrenghien, and Norway's Ingrid Schulerud, during their visit Thursday, May 25, 2917 (sic), at the Royal Palace in Brussels. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks).

But it failed to name one person —

1. Gauthier Destenay: The husband of Luxembourg's prime minister Xavier Bettel, who happens to be openly gay (interestingly, Malania's name was mentioned twice). Bettel, who married Destenay in 2015, apparently also happens to be only openly gay serving world leader (And you doubt the world is not full of hypocrites?).

The photo was taken at last week's summit in Brussels and was posted on Facebook in a collection of images from Trump's nine-day international tour.

After social media tore into the White House for the "embarrassing" and "disrespectful" omission, the caption was updated to include Destenay. While many reports and Trump supporters wanted to believe that the omission was innocent, baiters, as usual, slammed it on social media.

Trump's support for "traditional" marriage is not hidden. Although same-sex marriage rights have not come under scrutiny during Trump’s presidency, he had earlier said that Christians can “trust him” to defend traditional marriage.

But he has previously also said that he is "fine" with legislation passed during the Obama administration which allowed couples of the same sex to marry. However, American media reports suggest vice-president Mike Pence has strong views against same-sex marriage.

But the fact that White House managed not to see (read overlook) Destenay, who is clearly visible — smiling and wearing a dark suit, white shirt and light blue tie in the picture, behind Melania Trump’s right shoulder — will remain a mystery.

But that's not the end of this "omission" story. If Trumpland has its way, trust it to omit all those who doesn't conform to president Trump's standards and policies (or should we say idiosyncrasies).

For instance, the picture has spouses of leaders who not necessarily agree to disagree with president Trump. Let's take a look.

2. Emine Erdoğan: She is the "devoutly Muslim" and "scarf-wearing wife" of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Trump and Erdogan recently met amid straining ties between Turkey and the US. The Trump administration decided recently to begin arming the Kurds in Syria so they can fight against the Islamic State.

But Turkey, a NATO ally of the US, is furious over the decision and considers the Kurdish fighters the US is backing to be terrorists.

Erdogan has been relatively restrained in his criticism though, and the two, many believe, have a lot in common. They both are nationalists who have promised to make their countries "great again". Both are despised by their country's elites but adored outside big cities. Both have accused their countries’ permanent bureaucracy of plotting against them.

3. Belgium’s Queen Mathilde: The US president has famously called the Belgian capital — that is home to both the NATO and European Union headquarters — a "hellhole" following the city's recent struggles with terrorism. Trump who was harshly critical of NATO as a candidate, had previously declaried the military alliance "obsolete". In fact, he has also criticised member countries for not following NATO guidelines to spend at least 2 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence.

4. Amelie Derbaudrenghien: The partner of Belgian prime minister Charles Michel too was in the picture. According to  Belgian daily newspaper, Le Soir, Trump recently acclaimed the chocolates, which were a gift from the Belgian government during a meeting with Charles Michel, as "best". “These are the best,” he said, before explaining that his ambivalent attitude towards the EU was a consequence of his experiences trying to set up businesses, notably golf resorts, on the continent. Simply awesome, isn't it?

5. Thora Margret Baldvinsdottir (the first lady of Iceland): Incidentally, the United States of America was the first government to recognise the establishment of the Republic of Iceland on June 17, 1944.

However, after Trump's ascension to presidency with chants of "America First, America First", Iceland along with Finland, Denmark and a host of countries made hilarious videos pitching "America First, but let us be second". Even though the spoof began with the Netherlands, "America First, The Netherlands Second", with the idea of keeping the country as second in priority after the US. The Nordics didn't want to be forgotten, and hence Iceland too followed suit soon.

6. Brigitte Trogneux: She is certainly the most unconventional first lady going by Trump-esque standards. A wife who is 25 years her husband's (Emmanuel Macron ) senior is certainly unlikely to define Trump's "traditional marriage". Of course, it's okay for Mr Trump, by virtue of being the man who is entitled to grab women by their P*****, to be married to a wife 23 years his junior.

But there is something more interesting that happened between the French and US presidents during the NATO meet. Footage of the handshake as the pair met for lunch at the US embassy in Brussels ahead of a NATO summit has already gone viral. Macron held on tight to "Trump's notorious power grip as the two men sat next to each other, the Frenchman's mouth clenched and eyes firmly fixed at the 70-year-old tycoon's squinty stare".

After a few seconds, Trump opened his hand but Macron insisted on being the last to let go.

The French leader had another chance later in the day when he went ahead and embraced German Chancellor Angela Merkel before turning to greet Trump — who smilingly pumped and wrenched Macron's arm as other leaders laughed.

Macron said Trump and the Turkish and Russian presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin "think in terms of power ratios, which doesn't bother me".

We are surprised after all that, it was not Brigitte Trogneux whose name was omitted from the caption. She must feel so lucky. Isn't it?

7. Mojca Stropnik: The partner of Slovenian PM Miro Cerar and US first lady Melania Trump reportedly hit it off and, as claimed by Cerar, the two had a "nice chat" as part of the ladies' programme on the margins of the summit.

8. Desislava Radeva: The partner of Bulgaria's President Rumen Radev. Bulgaria was once Russia’s most dutiful vassal (during the Soviet era), but not after its former president, Rosen Plevneliev, sparked outrage in Moscow by striking a defiantly pro-Western tone.

In fact, in January, eastern European leaders (which included the Bulgarian president) begged Trump not to pursue a cosy relationship with Vladimir Putin, warning him that Russia will use any softening of sanctions as an opportunity to invade and spark World War Three. Well, you can guess who else stood the risk to getting her name omitted.

9. Ingrid Schulerud: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg’s wife. Stoltenberg, who served as prime minister of Norway from 2000 to 2001 and from 2005 to 2013, is the 13th secretary general of NATO.

While Trump, as the presidential candidate, had famously called the NATO as “obsolete”, the US president seems ready to do anything just to be seen next to chief Stoltenberg.

During the summit, Trump appeared to physically shove Montenegro’s prime minister Duško Marković out of the way to get to the front of the group and stand next to Stoltenberg. 

10. Melania Trump: It's more than ironic that Melania Trump happens to be the first immigrant first lady of America — wife of a president as hardline on immigration as Trump. Melania moved to New York about 20 years ago. The Slovenian born model married Trump in 2005. she became a citizen a decade after arriving in America.

President Trump once told the CNN, "She went through a long process to become a citizen. It was very tough." He claimed that Melania agrees with his immigration position. "When she got it, she was very proud of it. She came from Europe, and she was very, very proud of it. And she thinks it's a beautiful process when it works."

We wouldn't have been surprised had the White House omitted the immigrant first lady not just from the caption, but the photograph altogether.

Also read: Trump gets lost in deep Saudi pockets



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