Congress has inserted a provision into the State Department authorization budget that would require the State Department to confer the same benefits to same-sex partners as it does to married couples.
Congressman Howard Berman, Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, included the provision in the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 (H.R. 2410) to "end the long-standing practice of excluding the committed partners of Foreign Service officers from the benefits routinely provided to the spouses and children of officers serving abroad." The provision now must make its way through the budget process, including the conference committee where many-a-well intentioned proposal hits the chopping block. But in this case, it would be hard to imagine that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is lead by Chairman John Kerry and the moderate republic ranking member Richard Lugar, would do anything to strip out this provision.
This would be progress. For too long, gay and lesbian diplomats have had to chose between their families and their service. "I'm happy that efforts to redress these discriminatory policies are being undertaken," emails Michael Guest a former Foreign Service officer currently affiliated with the Center for Global Equality. "This is all about ensuring the safety, effectiveness and equal workplace conditions for those who serve our country abroad, and for the families who accompany them on those assignments."