baldwinIn a letter sent today, out Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to address inequities in employment practices concerning gay and lesbian State Department employees.

Joined by Sens. Russ Feingold and Ron Wyden and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Baldwin wrote:

“The lack of equitable treatment could force dedicated, intelligent, and needed FSOs (Foreign Service Officers) and officials to make an unfortunate choice between serving their country and protecting their families.  As you noted during the question and answer session of your Senate Foreign Relations confirmation hearing, many other nations now extend training, protection, and benefits to the partners of LGBT employees.  Further, the State Department’s past inattention to these disparities places it below parity with the best employment practices used in the private sector, where the majority of Fortune 500 companies extend employee benefit programs to cover the domestic partners.  Without remedying these inequities, the State Department may fail to attract and retain qualified personnel.”

Baldwin and her fellow legislators specifically asked Clinton, among other things, to institute:

– Inclusion in travel orders for same-sex domestic partners of Foreign Service Officers (FSOs)
– Access to training, including all language classes, area studies, and embassy effectiveness classes for same-sex domestic partners of FSOs
– Emergency evacuation and medevac from post when necessary for same-sex domestic partners of FSOs
– Access to post health units for same-sex domestic partners of FSOs
– Visa support for same-sex domestic partners accompanying FSOs to overseas postings, and for same-sex foreign-born domestic partners accompanying FSOs to postings in Washington or elsewhere in the U.S.