The State Department will offer same-sex partners of American diplomats all the benefits given to married spouses, reports the New York Times. An internal memo from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed to a gay and lesbian Foreign Service organization outlined the changes, which would ensure diplomatic passports, access to medical facilities and emergency evacuation, and language training for same-sex couples.
Gay and lesbian diplomats have long pushed for these changes, but State Department officials had previously argued that their hands were tied by the Defense of Marriage Act. Clinton, however, contended that same-sex equity was both an ethical and practical issue, arguing that it would help State Department recruitment efforts. "At bottom, the department will provide these benefits for both opposite-sex and same-sex partners because it is the right thing to do," said Clinton.