As you know, back in June, the benefits announced by the Secretary included allowing same-sex couples where both partners were employees to be considered tandem couples. This means that, like heterosexual married couples where both partners are employees, the Department will make every effort to assign the employees together. It isn't a guarantee for either heterosexual or same-sex couples, but it does make bidding a little easier.
This is one change that affected me personally. The Department had treated my wife and me as an "unofficial tandem" since I joined State, but I notice the difference now that we are official. They are willing to do even more to keep us assigned together, which is both nice for us (because we would consider leaving the service if we couldn't be assigned together) and cost effective for the Department (because if they keep a tandem couple happy, that keeps them from having to spend the amount needed to recruit and train two people rather than just one). And our getting treated like a tandem is not dependent on whether the person making the decisions is open-minded or a dinorsaur.
In their newsletter today, USAID sent out a notice about their tandem couples. The notice makes clear that USAID has followed suit with State and now considers same-sex couples where both are employees to be tandem as well. This not only makes life easier for those couples, but for couples where one person is State and the other USAID as well.
Very welcome news.
Subject: FS Assignments and Tandem Couples - OHR Registration
As the 2010 Foreign Service Assignment System moves forward, the
Office of Human Resources would like to highlight the process for the
assignment of tandem couples.
USAID ADS 436, Foreign Service Assignments, includes detailed guidance
on the assignment of couples, (which now includes both married and
same-sex partners) who are both members of the United States Foreign
Service. Of particular note is ADS 436.3.14 Tandem Assignments, which
all USAID tandem couples should review.
To register as a USAID tandem couple, please send an e-mail with the
following exact subject line: "Tandem Couple Registration" to:
Courtney Applegate cc: William Seabreeze, Cecilia Pitas, Skip
Kissinger, and Rene Reyes.
Please include for both members of the couple:
2) Backstop (for USAID FS employees)
3) Employing organization of non-USAID members
If registering as a same-sex tandem couple, also include in the e-mail
a statement that you have completed the steps indicated at the OHR
website for declaring domestic partner relationships. Those steps
1) Complete the affidavit of eligibility for benefits and
obligations. (The affidavit can be found at the OHR website at
Benefits - New/Changes to benefits, or as an attachment to Executive
Message dated August 4, 2009 entitled "Implementing Benefits for
Same-Sex Domestic Partners of Foreign Service Employees Serving
2) Amend the Residency and Dependency Report (Form OF-126) to add
"domestic partner" in the box requesting "relationship."
3) Turn the forms into your Foreign Service Specialist.
OHR makes every effort to accommodate tandem couples when making
assignment decisions, however please note that a tandem couple
assignment is not guaranteed as a result of this tandem couple