State Department to Offer Domestic Partner Benefits

Jim Burroway

May 24th, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will soon announce that the State Department will provide domestic partner benefits for same-sec couples, a move which will have particularly important ramifications for gay diplomats posted overseas:

Among the benefits that will now be granted gay diplomats: the right of domestic partners to hold diplomatic passports, government-paid travel for their partners and families to and from foreign posts, and the use of U.S. medical facilities abroad. In addition, gay diplomats’ families will now be eligible for U.S. government emergency evacuations and training courses at the Foreign Service Institute, the message says.

The previous policy, which barred recognition of same-sex couples, left partners of gay diplomats vulnerable to the visa policies of host countries. It also meant that, in some postings, they may well have had to take their lives into their own hands as previous policies denied them access to competent medical care and emergency evacuations.

One former ambassador to Romania under the Bush administration, Michael Guest, used the opportunity of his retirement in 2007 to publicly protest the restrictions. Guest had been sworn in as ambassador by former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who publicly recognized Guest’s partner, Alex Nevarez.

Matt

May 24th, 2009

Nice gesture by the State Department if it comes to pass. I wonder if this is Hillary’s way of prodding Obama to say/do more about gay issues?

Michelle

May 24th, 2009

Hopefully this will mean benefits for people outside of only diplomats in the federal government. My partner and I have been having this problem for over 7 years. She works for the federal government and even though we were married in California (and who knows if that will even be true next week), we have been struggling with visa issues for years while men are able to marry some prostitutes (not exaggerating) while divorcing their US wife and the new wife can get benefits in less than 2 days and I, as a 40 year US citizen, born and raised, have no rights whatsoever.

David C.

May 24th, 2009

I wonder if this is Hillary’s way of prodding Obama to say/do more about gay issues?—Matt

I suspect that she needed her boss to approve this action. I’m sure he is fully on-board with this and continues to operate from behind the curtain WRT gay civil rights.

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