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Ros-Lehtinen again urges fair treatment for gay and lesbian employees of U.S. Department of State

News release from U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:

Download final_response_letter_rice_on_lgbt_issues_at_state_05.07.08.pdf

(WASHINGTON) - Following up on a request to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice earlier this year to eliminate inequities facing gays and lesbians serving in the Department, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) today reiterated the need for action in a letter co-signed by four senior House members.

In February, Ros-Lehtinen questioned Rice during a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and urged the Department of State to provide domestic partners with comparable benefits, protections, and services as those enjoyed by family members of married foreign service officers.

"We ask much of our foreign service officers who operate under sometimes difficult and dangerous circumstances, and yet we treat some as second class citizens," said Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Republican on the Committee.

"Providing the kind of services to domestic partners that are already enjoyed by families of married couples is consistent with our cherished value of equality under the law," she added.

Among the benefits already enjoyed by families of married couples are emergency medical and security evacuation when required, access to training, including language classes, and access to embassy health units.

In the letter to Rice, Ros-Lehtinen and others suggest that most of the policy changes can be addressed by inclusion of same-sex domestic partners under the rules for defining an eligible family member. In addition to Ros-Lehtinen, the letter, which was prompted by unresponsive answers to earlier inquiries, was signed by U.S. Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA), Chairman of the Committee, Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Gary Ackerman (D-NY).

"Fair treatment for domestic partners also has the added benefit of improving an otherwise stressful workplace environment and boosting morale among the dedicated men and women who are on the front lines of protecting our interests overseas," Ros-Lehtinen added.


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I have been following this issue closely on my blog. I have linked to you here: http://lifeafterjerusalem.blogspot.com/2008/05/more-coverage-of-letter.html

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