Friday, February 13, 2009

Hillary working to change restrictions for Gays!

While Bill is out in San Diego crossing Prop 8 picket lines... read that story here. Hillary is also making a statement to the Gay Community. She recently reiterated her pledge to review inequities in her department’s treatment of gay employees by saying that the issue was of "real concern."
The partners in same-sex relationships are not offered the same training, the same benefits, and the same protections that other family members receive when you serve abroad. So I view this as an issue of workplace fairness, employee retention, and the safety and effectiveness of our embassy communities worldwide... We are reviewing what would need to be changed — what we can legally change,” she said. “A lot of things we cannot legally change by a decision in the State Department. But let’s see what we can determine is within our realm of responsibility, and we are moving on that expeditiously.”
I suppose there are things that she can change within the State Department just by simply changing the rules. She is, after all, the boss, you know. But then there will be other issues that are going to have to be dealt with congressionally and put into place by lawmakers.

The changes requiring congressional approval could be enacted by passage of the Domestic Partner Benefits & Obligations Act, which would grant the partners of gay federal employees the same benefits available to the spouses of straight employees. Approving this bill is necessary for partners to receive dental and vision benefits as well as a cost of living allowance. Also the Uniting American Families Act would need to be passed by congress. This Act would allow a foreign national’s partner in the United States to sponsor their immigration to the country, would allow gay Foreign Service officers to serve “without visa worries for their partners” and for retirees to return to the United States with a partner they meet abroad.

Clinton made these remarks during a Feb. 4 employee meeting in response to a question posed by Ralan Hill, who identified himself as a Foreign Service officer who was poised to go to Paraguay with a same-sex partner. Read the full Town Hall remarks here.

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