Monday, January 26, 2009

In the Name of Patriotism, Betrayed by Their Country?

At the recent confirmation hearings for Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state designate, Senator Russ Feingold asked the former her thoughts on the difficulties encountered by GLBT spouses of foreign service officers posted abroad. Denied of spousal rights, LGBT partners lack access to affordable health insurance coverage. During overseas tours, employees' partners lack access to employment opportunities, emergency evacuation, and embassy medical units, all afforded to married, heterosexual couples. The end result is that LGBT foreign service officers cannot carry out their official responsibilities given these family challenges. Moreover, this was patently unfair on them; though posted often to harsh settings, often even putting their lives in the harm's way, yet their own nation seemed to have forsaken them.

Below is Clinton's answer:

CLINTON: Senator, this issue was brought to my attention during the transition. I've asked to have more briefing on it because I think that we should take a hard look at the existing policy. As I understand it, but don't hold me to it because I don't have the full briefing material, but my understanding is other nations have moved to extend that partnership benefit. And we will come back to you to inform you of decisions we make going forward.

The above statement, as cautious, as it is, gives hope to the thousands of GLBT officers and their loved ones. Neglected and ignored for years by the Bush administration, which over and over again was deaf to their pleads led by their organization, Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA), perhaps, just perhaps, the times are a changing . See here for a longer write up on the background of this issue. Also see here for information about GLIFA.

No comments: