Clinton to Extend Benefits to Gay Diplomats' Partners

"It would make great changes in the lives" of gay Foreign Service officers and be "a giant step for equality."
Clinton to Extend Benefits to Gay Partners:
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.

…Those benefits will be extended to all unmarried domestic partners -- both same-sex and heterosexual -- under the policy shift to be announced by Clinton in the coming days, according to a draft memo prepared for Clinton's signature. The draft was provided to The Washington Post by an official with the organization Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies.

J. Michelle Schohn, president of the organization, said she had read media reports on the draft memo and was hopeful the changes would be implemented soon. "It would make great changes in the lives" of gay Foreign Service officers and be "a giant step for equality," she said.

In what will now be known as the Bad Old Days, same-sex partners of US diplomats were not only denied the usual array of benefits (healthcare, pension, etc.), but also, when their partners were relocated overseas, had to pay out-of-pocket to ship their household effects and to travel themselves to the new post. (Yes, that's right—the US government would not even pay for the airfare of an unmarried partner, even if the government itself prevented them from being married.) Even worse, unmarried partners—which, of course, typically includes women in straight couples—were not evacuated by the US government in case of a security or medical emergency.

Now, all that will change. And that's change I can believe in!

Melissa McEwan writes and edits the blog Shakespeare's Sister.
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