Monday, February 02, 2009

Washington Blade: Clinton meets with State Dept. gay group

This was in Saturday's Washington Blade. Sorry I didn't catch it over the weekend...I was getting ready to watch a little football...

Clinton meets with State Dept. gay group
Reiterates pledge to review policies

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday met with the head of the gay affinity group within her department and reiterated her pledge to review the inequities in how the State Department treats its gay and straight employees.

Michelle Schohn, president of Gays & Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, said she met with Clinton for 30 minutes along with the heads of nine affinity groups within the State Department.

Schohn said she raised the issue of how the department treats its gay employees, and Clinton responded by reiterating her promise to review current policies.

“It was an overwhelmingly positive meeting,” Schohn said. “There wasn’t a lot of time to talk with her because she was meeting with all the affinity groups, so we each got a tiny chunk of time to be able to say something to her.”

Schohn said Clinton seemed “generally interested in what we had to say.” No timetables or other details were discussed, Schohn said.

Unlike the spouses of straight Foreign Service officers, the partners of gay Foreign Service officers are not included in travel orders, not eligible for federal health care insurance, not entitled to emergency evacuation and not eligible for more than basic language training.

While the State Department covers various travel expenses for officials moving overseas, including the cost of moving a pet, the department doesn’t reimburse travel costs for a partner.

When Clinton was asked about gay employees during her confirmation hearing earlier this month, she said she would “take a hard look at existing policy,” and that her “understanding is other nations have moved to extend that partnership benefit.”

Earlier this week, GLIFAA delivered a letter to Clinton signed by more than 2,000 government workers urging her to address the discrepancies between how the State Department treats gay and straight employees.

Schohn said she asked Clinton whether she had received the letter, and Clinton confirmed that she did.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's so wonderful that you can say you've made a difference.