Foreign Policy Workers Call on Clinton for Same-sex Benefits
More than 2,000 United States foreign policy workers signed a letter that was delivered to United States Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, urging consideration for equal benefits for same-sex partnerships.
In the letter, which was organized by the group Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, the signatories wrote, "We believe that no colleague of ours is a second-class colleague, and no colleague's family is a second-class family." Many of the disparities could be resolved with an order from Clinton's office, the letter said, though some would require legislation.
J. Michelle Schohn, president of the organization, said that since Guest's resignation, State has opened an overseas security training seminar and short language courses to same-sex partners, among other measures. But she said a wide array of benefits are still 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.
"We question the logic of leaving same-sex partners to fend for themselves during an emergency evacuation of a high danger post," the letter said. "We are embarrassed when the Department will reimburse a variety of moving expenses, including the cost of transporting a pet, when an employee is assigned overseas, but will not do the same for a same-sex partner."
Schohn said that 92 percent of the people signing the letter were single or married to someone of the opposite sex.
A State Department official said Clinton had received the letter. "The secretary wants to review this soon and plans to hear from all relevant stakeholders," he added.
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.
Full text of the letter to Secretary of State Clinton can be read at Towleroad, here.