The Foreign Service Journal, May 2013

32 MAY 2013 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL GLIFAA has largely accomplished its original mission: to combat discrimination in the employee clearance process. But much other work remains to be done. BY STEVEN G I EGER I CH 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 Affairs Agencies. FOCUS DIVERSITYWITHIN THE FOREIGN SERVICE PRIDE EVERY DAY I n its 21-year history, Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs 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 definition 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. That 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 afforded to other members of a diplomatic household. There is no question that these changes have been dra- matic. But as helpful as they have been, we are still a long way from finished. 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