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May 25, 2009

Draft of Secretary Clinton's announcement of same-sex partner benefits

The Advocate has published what it describes as a leaked version of the forthcoming State Department policy on same-sex partners of Foreign Service Officers:


For Review

Today, I am pleased to announce that the Department of State will be extending a number of benefits and allowances to domestic partners of members of the Foreign Service assigned abroad. 

While a career in the Foreign Service is rewarding, the demands to serve our country both at home and abroad also require great sacrifice by our Foreign Service personnel and their families as well. Family members often must uproot their lives, endure hardship conditions, and put their own careers on hold. Like all families, our Foreign Service families come in different configurations; all are part of the common fabric of our Post communities abroad. 

Historically, domestic partners of Foreign Service members have not been provided the same training, benefits, allowances, and protections that other family members receive. These inequities are unfair and must end. Providing training, medical care, and other benefits to domestic partners promote the cohesiveness, safety, and effectiveness of our Posts abroad. It will also help the Department attract and retain personnel in a competitive environment where domestic partner benefits and allowances are increasingly the norm for world-class employers. At bottom, the Department will provide these benefits for both opposite-sex and same-sex domestic partners because it is the right thing to do. 

The Department will be exercising its inherent authority to change its regulations in the Foreign Affairs Manual and Department of State Standardized Regulations to allow the domestic partners of Department Foreign Service personnel to qualify as family members for a variety of benefits and allowances. Where appropriate, this extension of benefits and allowances will apply to the children of domestic partners as well. To qualify for these benefits and allowances, an employee must file an affidavit identifying his or her domestic partner and certifying to certain eligibility requirements that will be set forth in the FAM.

The Department of State intends to provide the following additional benefits and allowances for declared domestic partners of eligible employees serving overseas:

·         Diplomatic passports,

·         Inclusion on employee travel orders to and from posts abroad,

·         Shipment of household effects,

·         Inclusion in family size calculations for the purpose of making housing allocations,

·         Family member preference for employment at posts abroad,

·         Use of medical facilities at posts abroad,

·         Medical evacuation from posts abroad,

·         Emergency travel for the partners to visit gravely ill or injured employees,

·         Inclusion as family members for emergency evacuation from posts abroad,

·         Subsistence payments related to emergency evacuation from posts abroad,

·         Inclusion in calculations of payments of overseas differentials and allowances (e.g., payment for quarters, cost of living, and other allowances),
·         Representation expenses, and

·         Training at the Foreign Service Institute.

The Department also will work with our inter-agency partners and host country governments to provide domestic partners with diplomatic visas, appropriate diplomatic and consular privileges and immunities, and authorization to work in the local economy abroad. 

We look forward to implementing these changes.


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The general impresison from most people reading informaton concerning soon-to-be implemented changes affecting same-sex parnter benefits is that the Foreign Service employees or 'diplomats' will be the only beneficiaries from the changes in the Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR). This is not true. Department of Defense branches(Army, Air Force, Navy etc)use the DSSRs as guidance to provide benefits to their civilian employees.
As a civilian employee of the US Army overseas, my housing allowances, passports and transporation of personal items are controlled by the DSSRs. Changes to the DSSRs would affect all US employees overseas, not just the State Department.

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