Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Lantos (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) today joined with Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to introduce a bill that would extend basic employment rights to same-sex partners of federal employees.

The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (H.R. 4838) would extend the employment-related benefits to same-sex domestic partners that are currently available to spouses of married federal employees, including those in the Foreign Service.

“These dedicated men and women serve their country, yet our government does not honor the basic rights of the benefits they have earned for themselves and their families,” Lantos said.  “There is no rational explanation for a same-sex domestic partner to be treated as a second-class citizen, and it is a national embarrassment that we are forcing good people out of government service.”

As Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Lantos highlighted the particular difficulties facing gays and lesbians in the Foreign Service.  Partners of gay and lesbian Foreign Service officers are refused diplomatic passports and the security training normally provided to spouses. 

Gay and lesbian partners of Foreign Service officers are also denied the housing support granted to other employees while their partners serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as any financial support in joining their partners as they travel to their jobs overseas.

“We ask our diplomats to serve their nation in many high-threat posts, but deny them the ability to fully protect their families,” Lantos noted.  “This is absolutely outrageous and unacceptable.”