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Paul Richter writes in today’s issue of the LA Times: Benefits for gays? Us too, say the unwed. He reports that opposite-sex partners in the Foreign Service say they should be treated the same and that at least one FS couple has threatened to challenge the rules in court as discriminatory.
I don’t know what the numbers is for the Foreign Service but according to this report census data show that unwed heterosexual couples in the United States comprise about 10% of opposite-sex couples living together. I though think that this issue, because it has to do with people and benefits has the potential to get rather messy. Quick excerpts below:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton won praise in June after pushing to extend many federal benefits traditionally provided to diplomats’ spouses to gay and lesbian partners.
Since then, unmarried heterosexual couples have been lining up to ask for benefits too. They have approached the State Department’s personnel office and the diplomats’ union, arguing that they are entitled to equal treatment. At least one couple has threatened to challenge the rules in court as discriminatory.
The family benefits, although a small part of diplomats’ overall benefit package, are important to Foreign Service officers. Benefits include paid travel for the partner to and from overseas posts; visas and diplomatic passports; emergency medical treatment; shipment of household possessions; emergency evacuation in times of danger; and education benefits for minor children. Health insurance is not included for gay partners, although spouses are covered.
The American Foreign Service Assn., the diplomats’ union, has not yet taken a position, said spokesman Tom Switzer, but it “has heard from a number of members who believe that the same benefits should be extended to opposite-sex, unmarried partners as well.”
Read the whole thing here.