Family benefits for State Department Employees: HRC will lobby Secretary of State Clinton to reward
January 27, 2009
We, the undersigned and representing the diversity of the foreign affairs agencies, would like to bring to your attention a matter that concerns us all. All of us are troubled that our families are not all treated equally and with the same respect. We are concerned that access to the federal health care insurance program is denied to same-sex partners of employees serving in Third World countries with substandard medical care. We question the logic of leaving same-sex partners to fend for themselves during an emergency evacuation of a high danger post. We are embarrassed when the Department will reimburse a variety of moving expenses, including the cost of transporting a pet, when an employee is assigned overseas, but will not do the same for a same-sex partner. We are saddened that individual and community safety are put at risk because full language instruction is not available to same-sex partners. We are uncomfortable that same-sex partners receive less compensation and fewer benefits for performing exactly the same job inside the mission as an opposite-sex spouse, that is, when same-sex partners are given a chance to work.This came on the heels of Senator Feingold (D-WI) asking her, in her hearing, whether she supported extending benefits. HRC salutes GLIFAA for involving so many allies in the fight for equal family benefits. Pam Spaulding has posted the full text of GLIFAA's letter to Secretary of State Clinton. We support the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act, which would not only extend benefits to State Department employees’ families, but include domestic partners in all federal family benefits, including health and retirement plans, relocation expenses, and financial disclosure obligations. In 2008, HRC participated in a congressional briefing with former ambassador Michael Guest, who left foreign service after 26 years because his family was treated unfairly, and representatives of federal employee groups and unions. There, we educated congressional staff about the issues facing LGBT federal civilian workers, and why the Act is the right solution. HRC has advocated—both in Congress and before the agencies—to make these important policy changes. We submitted questions to Senators for Clinton’s confirmation hearing. In recent months, HRC presented recommendations to the transition team regarding why and how to extend benefits such as emergency evacuation (PDF) and access to medical care (PDF). These recommendations, prepared in 2008, are part of our Blueprint for Administration action on LGBT issues. We will continue to promote these recommendations now that the Secretary has been confirmed. To explain these and other issues facing our families, download our Family Matters brochure (PDF) and share it with friends and neighbors.