Thursday, June 17, 2010

Grading the Feds on LGBT Issues: Three Bs, Two Cs, and Three Ds

South Florida Gay News had this piece yesterday grading Federal Agencies on LGBT issues. The Department of State was one of the highest scorers, with an overall grade of B.

Grading the Feds on LGBT Issues: Three Bs, Two Cs, and Three Ds

A panel of six LGBT activist leaders were asked in April to give a grade to the Obama administration thus far on LGBT issues. Three panelists gave the administration a “D,” two gave it a “B,” and one a “C.” Keen News Service decided to take a look at eight major federal departments and apply a similar grading system.

The result was strikingly similar to that which emerged from the April 22 LGBT Leadership Townhall panel, hosted by Sirius XM Radio’s Michelangelo Signorile Show. The panel’s average came to 1.8 on a scale that gives 1 point for a D and 4 for an A. Looking at the Obama administration’s major departments, the KNS analysis came up with a 2.0.

The Departments of State and Housing and Urban Development each earned a “B” from KNS, a grade given for taking significant steps toward equal rights for LGBT people, even if some inequities remain. Health and Human Services and the Office of Personnel Management each earned a “C,” given for taking some steps toward equal rights and making no efforts to obstruct equality, while many or major inequities remain within that department’s purview. And Defense, Justice, and Education each earned a “D,” for taking few steps toward improving equal rights and making some efforts to obstruct such rights.

None of the departments warranted an “A,” for taking significant and comprehensive steps toward improving equal rights for LGBT people—or an “F,” for doing nothing to improve equal rights for LGBT people and also taking steps to block such equality.


The DOS said it would provide the same benefits to the same-sex partners of foreign service employees sent abroad as it does to opposite-sex spouses, including diplomatic passports, use of U.S. medical facilities, emergency evacuation, and training at the Foreign Service Institute.

Two major items are not covered, how- ever: health care and retirement benefits. President Obama, in a memo requesting partner benefits for federal employees, stated that federal law prevents his administration from extending those benefits.

DOS has additionally changed its policy so that a person in a legal same-sex marriage can apply for a new passport using his or her taken (married) surname.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has publicly decried Uganda’s proposed harsh anti-gay bill and spoken directly with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni about it.

Karl Wycoff, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, testified at a January House hearing on the Ugandan bill and said the U.S. embassy in Uganda has been working with the Ugandan government and local gay and lesbian groups to stop the legislation. The DOS also issued a statement condemning the Malawi government’s sentencing of a couple—a gay man and a transgender woman—to 14 years of hard labor for “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” and “gross indecency.”

The DOS worked with President Obama to appoint David Huebner as U.S.Ambassador to New Zealand in December 2009. Huebner is the first openly gay person to be appointed to an ambassadorship in the Obama administration, and the third in U.S. history.

Digger Comments:
I have to say that I find it unfair to grade the Department down for not offering benefits that it is not legally allowed to offer. Secretary Clinton addressed every inequility faced by LGBT employees and their families that it was within her power to affect. And her staff continues to meet with GLIFAA regularly to address any issues arising. I'd have given us an A.

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