Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Secretary-designate Clinton addresses issues faced by LGBT employees

At her confirmation hearing today, Secretary-designate Clinton was saying a lot of the right things, like that she wanted to make sure that there were sufficient resources for the Foreign Service to do its job. She acknowledged that Foreign Service officers were doing the work of America, often putting their lives at risk to do it.

She also answered a question from Senator Feingold about the issues facing gay and lesbian employees at the State Department and USAID.

SEN. FEINGOLD: -- Let me switch to something completely different.

There's widespread recognition of the need to build a more robust and effective diplomatic and development corps. And as a part of that effort, it of course makes sense to consider ways to address challenges faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees, particularly relating to domestic partner benefits in State Department policies that make it difficult for the partners of Foreign Service officers to travel and live at overseas posts.
What would you do, as secretary of State, to address these concerns? Will you support changes to existing personnel policies in order to ensure that LGBT staff at State and USAID receive equal benefits and support?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, Senator, this issue was brought to my attention during the transition. I've asked to have more briefing on it because I think that we should take a hard look at the existing policy. As I understand it -- but, I don't hold me to it because I don't have the full briefing material, but my understanding is other nations have moved to extend that partnership benefit, and we will come back to you to inform you of decisions we make going forward.

Not perfect, but it is a start. And at least the question was asked (thanks Senator Feingold!).

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