Secretary Clinton had her first "town hall" meeting today with her foreign service and civil service employees in the Dean Acheson auditorium at Main State. People were allowed to ask questions freely, and my understanding was that the audience questions were not prescreened.
I didn't get to go, so I watched on BNET from my office. I had hoped someone would ask her about MOH issues. I really want her to keep this in mind.
A man named Ralan, who I have never seen before and who is heading to Paraguay with his partner, couldn't have done a better job if he had been scripted!
He told her he was heading to Paraguay with his same-sex partner and that the State Department "discriminates against me and my family by denying benefits routinely and customarily granted to opposite sex partners." He asked what she could do "to eliminate this discrimination" and what her timeline would be.
There is, of course, only so much the Secretary can say about what she plans to do. That said, I was extremely pleased with her answer. She said this was an "issue of real concern" to her. She said that while all officers have the same requirements of service, the partners of LGBT officers do not receive the same "training, benefits and protections "other families recieve when you serve abroad." She said she considered this an issue of work-place fairness, retention, and safety and effectiveness worldwide. She said this was on a fast timeline to be addressed and that she had already begun the process of looking into what she can do. She said she is moving on this expeditiously.
In other words, the Secretary gets it.