Thursday, January 22, 2015
Shotgun Gay Weddings for State Department Employees
As reported in The Washington Blade, the State Department is considering phasing out domestic partner benefits for unmarried gay employees.
Patrick Kennedy, under secretary for management at the State Department, told representatives of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies that the agency plans to move forward the proposed elimination of the Same-Sex Domestic Partner (SSDP) program.
Many State Department employees come from states that have yet to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Their partners could also lose their jobs “simply for getting married to someone of the same gender.” which is why the Domestic Partnership option is so popular.
Legally married foreign-born partners of GLIFAA members could face additional threats in their respective homelands.
“A diplomat from the embassy of an anti-gay country could walk into D.C. City Hall today and ask to see the marriage records of such a couple, Those records could then be used to ‘convict’ the foreign partner of homosexuality the next time he travels home. The danger is real.” GLIFAA President Selim Ariturk.
“While it’s great that we can get married much more easily now, my partner and I are not looking forward to being forced into a shotgun marriage due to a policy change that takes away the benefits we were promised,” (gay entry-level Foreign Service officer who sought to remain anonymous)
This change would be ironic considering that 66 percent of Fortune 500 companies now offer domesitc partnership benefits. (Including Walmart)
To have those same benefits denied to state Department employees is a travesty.
Noel Clay, a spokesperson for the State Department said, “For the State Department, one thing we have to do, which we’ve taken appropriate time to do correctly, is to review the SSDP program and determine how to make it comply with the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision,”
The Windsor Decision was the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling that struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Additional Reporting here