Page 32 - Foreign Service Journal - May 2013

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MAY 2013
GLIFAA has largely accomplished its
original mission: to combat discrimination
in the employee clearance process.
But much other work remains to be done.
Steven Giegerich is currently consular chief in Stockholm. Since
joining the Foreign Service in 1991, he has served in Baghdad, Hong
Kong, Pretoria, Frankfurt, MFO Sinai, Vancouver, Tashkent, Nassau
and Athens. He is a longtime member of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign
Afairs Agencies.
n its 21-year history, Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Afairs
Agencies has already achieved dramatic success in its
work to secure full parity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender personnel and their families, both in the
United States and overseas. Founded at a time when
simply being LGBT was grounds for denial or revocation
of a security clearance, GLIFAA has largely accomplished
its original mission: to combat discrimination in the employee
clearance process.
Now, in partnership with key allies at all levels across the
Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Devel-
opment, it is working to raise greater public awareness of LGBT
issues and to deliver substantive, equitable policy changes for
LGBT employees.
Back in May 2009, this magazine published a Speaking Out
column I contributed (“Hope for Gay and Lesbian Foreign
Service Employees”) describing the barriers that same-sex
couples still faced within the Foreign Service, and highlighting
the promising developments that loomed just over the horizon.
Four years later, many of these gains have been realized, with
truly seismic impact for LGBT employees.
Under former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,
the defnition of “eligible family member” was expanded to
include same-sex partners in declared long-term commitments
to each other. As a result, our spouses and partners are now
included on travel orders, receive funded travel (for permanent
changes of station, rest and recreation, home leave, emergency
travel, etc.) and have access to overseas health units, as well as
assistance with visa requests where possible, revised cost-of-
living allowance calculations, etc.
Tat change allowed me to safe-haven my partner, Daniel, at
my previous posting in Hong Kong during the year I just spent
at Embassy Baghdad (an assignment I would not have taken
had that option not been available to us). U.S.-citizen spouses
and partners can now obtain diplomatic passports, along with,
in many instances, the privileges and immunities aforded to
other members of a diplomatic household.
Tere is no question that these changes have been dra-
matic. But as helpful as they have been, we are still a long way
from fnished. Indeed, these limited successes have blinded
some of our supporters to the important work that remains. I
never cease to be amazed at how many genuinely supportive