Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was sworn in as the United States’ top diplomat on Jan 21, said during her confirmation hearings that she would review the State Department’s policies toward same-sex partners of foreign service officers.
Currently, same-sex partners of civil and foreign service employees in the two foreign service agencies, the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development, lack access to benefits available to heterosexual spouses. Such critical benefits include health care, relocation expenses, language training, employment opportunities and evacuation aid in the event of emergency.
During her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Clinton pledged to look into the policy, although she did not promise to make changes. The prospect of a gay-friendlier environment would support plans to expand the foreign service as part of a shift in national security policy. According to The New York Times, the Obama administration intends to hire more foreign service officers in order to focus on diplomacy, conflict resolution and nation building—rather than military force—in international relations.