Gay Rights on Fast Track at State Dept.

Days after pledging to review policies that discriminate against LGBT employees at the State Department, Secretary Clinton said her staff is reviewing inequities and preparing to make appropriate changes "expeditiously."

BY Kerry Eleveld

February 05 2009 1:00 AM ET

“The lack
of equitable treatment could force dedicated, intelligent,
and needed FSOs (Foreign Service officers) and
officials to make an unfortunate choice between
serving their country and protecting their
families,” read the letter. “The State
Department’s past inattention to these
disparities places it below parity with the best employment
practices used in the private sector, where the majority of
Fortune 500 companies extend employee benefit programs
to cover the domestic partners.”

Baldwin and her
colleagues singled out the following changes in State
Department policy regarding Foreign Service officers:

Inclusion in travel orders for same-sex domestic partners of

• Access
to training, including all language classes, area studies,
and embassy effectiveness classes for same-sex
domestic partners of FSOs

Emergency evacuation and medevac from post when necessary
for same-sex domestic partners of FSOs

• Access
to post health units for same-sex domestic partners of FSOs

• Visa
support for same-sex domestic partners accompanying FSOs to
overseas postings, and for same-sex foreign-born domestic
partners accompanying FSOs to postings in Washington
or elsewhere in the U.S.

Preferential status for employment at post, comparable to
that enjoyed by eligible family members, for same-sex
domestic partners of FSOs 

members sent a similar letter to former secretary
Condoleezza Rice last year, but the concerns fell on deaf
ears. Then–assistant secretary Jeffrey Bergner
sent a response stating that the department recruits
and promotes employees “without regard to sexual
orientation” and affords benefits to unmarried
partners of employees in accordance with the Foreign
Affairs Manual (at 3 FAM 4180). The letter failed to
acknowledge any inequalities faced by officers in same-sex

Tags: Politics