Rep. Berman: State Dept. will establish benefits for same-sex diplomats in the ‘very near future.’

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"Rep. Berman: State Dept. will establish benefits for same-sex diplomats in the ‘very near future.’"

Last week, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) introduced the two-year Foreign Relations Authorization Act. One of the provisions of the legislation was to “end the long-standing practice of excluding the committed partners of Foreign Service officers from the benefits routinely provided to the spouses and children of officers serving abroad.” However, today Berman announced that he was dropping that provision because the State Department has promised to act instead:

Berman, in a hearing on funding for the Foreign Service, said he would drop his legislative bid as “it is my expectation, based on very recent conversations, that the Secretary of State will move forward with implementing all of the benefits provided in that provision in the very near future.”

The ranking Republican member on the committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), supported the benefits. But Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) was opposed, worried that the bill would force U.S. diplomats to “be advocates for the homosexual agenda.” A poll earlier this year found that 71 percent of foreign service officers support “official recognition and benefits for same-sex domestic partners of Foreign Service members.”

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In a statement, Berman said, “I am deeply committed to ending the long-standing practice of treating the committed partners of gay and lesbian Foreign Service officers like second-class citizens. I would not agree to strike a provision in my own bill if I did not feel confident that this would be taken care of by the Administration.”

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