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State Dept. Plan Would Extend Benefits to Same Sex Partners

By Ed O'Keefe

By Glenn Kessler in The Post's 44 blog:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will soon announce that the partners of gay U.S. diplomats are eligible for many benefits currently denied them and allowed to spouses of heterosexual diplomats, according to lawmakers and others advocating the change.

The Bush administration had eased some rules, opening up some training to same-sex partners, but had resisted efforts to treat homosexual partners the same as married couples. Thus a wide array of benefits were denied to same-sex partners, such as paid travel to and from overseas posts, employment opportunities at the embassy, visas and diplomatic passports, mail privileges and evacuation in case of a security emergency or medical necessity.

Many of these benefits will now be granted under the policy shift that will be announced by Clinton in the coming days, according to an official with the Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies organization who has seen a draft copy of a memo she plans to issue. The official provided a copy of the memo to The Washington Post.

The issue achieved prominence in 2007 when a respected ambassador, Michael Guest, resigned after 26 years in the Foreign Service to protest the rules and regulations that he argued gave same-sex partners fewer benefits than family pets. Guest said he was forced to choose "between obligations to my partner, who is my family, and service to my country," which he called "a shame for this institution and our country."

Guest was a member of Obama's State Department transition team. And Clinton, during her confirmation hearings, indicated a greater willingness to explore the issue.

Continue reading in 44 >>>

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 24, 2009; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Workplace Issues  
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