GLIFAA’s work has shown results in changed LGBT policies in Foreign Affairs Agencies, in media coverage of our issues, and in the advocacy in which our partners have engaged.
In 2014, our focus areas are threefold:
1. We seek to remove the “transgender exclusion” from Federal employee health plans. This provision not only denies our transgender colleagues the care they need during a transition, but it has been used to deny all manner of coverage post-transition. One employee who suffered a heart attack years after her transition saw her health benefits denied because the insurance company claimed her condition could have resulted from her transition. Leading medical authorities and an increasing number of lower and administrative courts have found this exclusion ill-advised and illegal.
2. We seek full implementation of the June 2013 Supreme Court decision (United States vs. Windsor) that finally recognized our marriages. This includes recognizing same-sex husbands and wives in all relevant personnel policies and practices, following the mantra “a spouse is a spouse.” To do so will also require the State Department to take a more assertive approach. If a host government does not recognize American spouses for the purpose of diplomatic accreditation, we call upon the State Department to protest, engage vigorously and if necessary uphold reciprocity by denying diplomatic accreditation to spouses from the offending country.
3. We seek to preserve and expand the U.S. Government’s domestic partner benefits program for employees in a foreign affairs assignment. Some domestic partners face threats of violence, ostracization and/or legal complications that make marriage infeasible. Despite their unmarried status, it is in the U.S. Government interest to provide them with normal diplomatic protections and family support. Ideally, policies for straight and gay families would be alike and would grow; after all, domestic partner benefits are becoming mainstream, as Wal-Mart and others attest. In the meantime, the fact is that same-sex domestic partners (SSDPs) confront serious threats and obstacles, both in the U.S. and overseas, that straight couples rarely face. Supreme Court decisions notwithstanding, it would be reckless and harmful to roll back SSDP benefits at this time. Finally, no state, upon the introduction of marriage equality, has ever de-recognized pre-existing relationships; just as our relationships do not have expiration dates, so too must relationship recognition continue for all families who need it.