Human Rights Campaign Applauds Extension of Benefits to Domestic Partners of Foreign Service Officers
Multiple reports that State Department will extend travel, training and other benefits to partners.
Washington – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today lauded State Department plans, reported in multiple media outlets, to extend a number of important benefits to the domestic partners of Foreign Service officers. According to press reports, among the benefits that will be extended to partners of Foreign Service officers are travel to and from overseas posts, shipments of household effects, visas and diplomatic passports, emergency travel to visit ill or injured partners, and evacuation in case of a security emergency or medical necessity. This action does not, however, make health insurance, retirement and numerous other benefits available to domestic partners of Foreign Service officers or any other federal workers.
“This is a remedy that is long overdue. For too many years, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Foreign Service officers have been forced to choose between serving their country and protecting their families,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “We thank President Obama and Secretary Clinton for their leadership in taking this important step and look forward to working with the Administration to extend further protections and benefits to LGBT Americans. In addition, we thank the members of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) for their tireless efforts within the State Department and other agencies on behalf of LGBT people. We particularly thank former Ambassador Michael Guest, who left the Foreign Service after 26 years to protest these inequalities, for his service to our country and his tremendous leadership in advocating for equality.”
Alongside other organizations, Human Rights Campaign has been advocating for the extension of these important benefits for Foreign Service officers. After the November election, HRC issued its “Blueprint for Positive Change,” a series of more than 70 recommendations to the Obama Administration on how to improve the lives of LGBT people through executive action, which included extending the travel, training and other benefits described in the memorandum. Working with GLIFFA and the Council for Global Equality, HRC lobbied congressional committees to ask State Department officials about the extension of these benefits and to include them in key legislation governing the State Department.
In addition, alongside other Council members, HRC met with State Department representatives earlier this year and emphasized the importance of treating the partners of Foreign Service officers equally. On behalf of all federal workers, HRC continues to advocate for the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (DPBO), legislation that would extend health, retirement and other benefits to the domestic partners of federal employees; DPBO was reintroduced in the House and Senate last week.