Saturday, April 12, 2008

Years of Civil Service - Years of Unequal Treatment

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) covers Ambassador Guest's resignation in yesterday's "Years of Civil Service - Years of Unequal Treatment", part of their "Real People, Real Stories, Real Issues" at HRC Backstory. You can also see a video interview with Ambassador Guest here.

Real People, Real Stories, Real Issues: Here's a personal story that sadly demonstrates that even GLBT individuals working at the highest levels of the federal government are denied equal treatment of their relationships and same-sex partners. Michael Guest, who is a former U.S. Ambassador to Romania, resigned from the State Department in November after 26 years in the Foreign Service to protest rules and regulations that give unmarried partners of Foreign Service officers "fewer benefits than family pets." Although Guest loved his job representing the U.S. abroad, he is like the thousands of other civil servants across the country who performed their job each day without many of the employee benefits his straight counterparts enjoyed:

"My partner wasn't entitled to travel benefits so I had to always pay his airfares to and from postings. I had to pay for his travel out of the country if we were coming back to Washington for any reason. He wasn't entitled to coverage under my federal health benefits - which is a major problem when you're going overseas to places where there really isn't adequate medical care. Nor was he even given the same access to the embassy, or to security training, or to language training, or any of the other things that spouses normally qualify for - so the treatement is very different for same-sex couples.

It's an honor...I will always say that it's an honor to serve my country. I am so proud of having been a member of the Foreign Service and it still is a part of me of me, in some respects. I miss it every day. But I find it amazing that a country that would send its diplomats abroad to represent it would offer such unfair treatment simply because my partner and I cannot get married."

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