State Department to grant diplomats’ same-sex partners benefits and protections

24 05 2009

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton wrote an internal State Department memo saying that the State Department would grant the same benefits and protections to same-sex partners of American diplomats.  Such benefits and protections include “diplomatic passports, use of medical facilities at overseas posts, medical and other emergency evacuation, transportation between posts, and training in security and languages”.  Heterosexual partners of American diplomats are entitled to all of these but gay and lesbian diplomats have been lobbying the State Department for these benefits for quite some time now.  The current policy is also harmful to the LGBTQ community because “diplomats with domestic partners could be evacuated from a hazardous country by the American government while their partners were left behind.”

Clinton said:

Like all families, our Foreign Service families come in different configurations; all are part of the common fabric of our post communities abroad.  At bottom the department will provide these benefits for both opposite-sex and same-sex partners because it is the right thing to do.

Gay marriage is often the only LGBTQ issue that receives significant mainstream media coverage and public attention.  This has the tendency to eclipse the many other critical issues that the LGBTQ community struggles and strives for.  This memo is certainly very heartening and indicative of progress.  While there is no set time frame on when the policy will take effect, it has been confirmed by a senior State Department official.  Hopefully it will take effect as soon as possible and overcome any legislative hurdles that may come in the way.


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