Gay Ambassador Resigns Over Discrimination at State Dep’t

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Commend Michael Guest, the former ambassador to Romania and an openly gay man, for speaking up at his retirement ceremony:

Before friends, colleagues and top officials in the State Department Treaty Room, Mr. Guest took Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (who was not present) to task for failing to treat the partners of gay and lesbian foreign service officers the same as the spouses of heterosexual officers. And he revealed — with eloquent sadness, not anger — that this was the reason for his departure.

“Most departing ambassadors use these events to talk about their successes . . . But I want to talk about my signal failure, the failure that in fact is causing me to leave the career that I love,” said Mr. Guest, 50, whose most recent assignment was dean of the leadership and management school at the Foreign Service Institute, the government’s school for diplomats.

“For the past three years, I’ve urged the Secretary and her senior management team to redress policies that discriminate against gay and lesbian employees. Absolutely nothing has resulted from this. And so I’ve felt compelled to choose between obligations to my partner — who is my family — and service to my country. That anyone should have to make that choice is a stain on the Secretary’s leadership and a shame for this institution and our country,” he said.

Estimates suggest that there are 600 gay men and women currently working as foreign affairs officers. Unlike the spouses of heterosexual employees, their partners are not entitled to “free medical care at overseas posts, guaranteed evacuation in case of a medical emergency, transportation to overseas posts, or special living allowances.” (H/T Think Progress)

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