Thursday, December 20, 2007

Foreign Service: resignation over partner safety

Although the military gay ban is the most obvious example of discrimination in specialized employment now, other areas remain. The Washington Blade, on p 1 Dec. 14, 2007 carried a story "Gay ambassador retires in protest: Guest criticizes Rice, claims State Dept. rules put partner in danger," by Lou Cbibbaro Jr., link here. The US Ambassador to Romania Michael Guest resigned over concerns about his partner's treatment. He claimed that pets get better treatment than gay partners. The government, of course, is answering by simply interpreting the laws as passed by Congress very literally. Culturally, there is a tendency for people to believe that both members of a same-sex couple are self-sufficient and do not need benefits; but in fact many heterosexual couples start out that way until having children.

Romania, as a country, has undergone enormous changes since the fall of Communism, now being perceived as a major location for making films ("Cold Mountain") and a source of important culture, especially folk music. Ciacescu was one of the most brutal dictators during Communist times, leaving behind orphaned children who still demand attention from international adoption efforts. Ambassadorship to the country is obviously an important function. The language is a Romance language similar to Italian.

Chibbaro has covered Guest's job in Romania before, such as in the Blade on July 2, 2004, with "Gay ambassador assailed by Romanian newspaper: Gay, State Department, Romanian president praise Michael Guest," link here.

One of the most obvious areas of concern for GLBT people is security clearances. Frank Kameny has reported on radio talk shows (as Scott Peck 's in 1993) that the situation for civilians has been much better since about 1990, and especially after the first Persian Gulf War. President Clinton addressed the issue with an Executive Order in 1995. One situation that could occur is if, with a same-sex couple, one member was active in the Armed Forces, and the other was a civilian with a compartmentalized security clearance, where openness is essential. This has been one of the most serious holes in the DADT policy from a national security perspective. It sounds like the stuff of novels (such as a manuscript of mine, right here on my own hard drive, and backed up, of course).

Picture: Nellie's, a sports bar at 9th and U St. NW Washington, site of the Reel Affirmations parties and of an SLDN Army-Navy game party on Dec 1 (when the flags were on the Mall).

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