Sunday, January 3, 2010

U.S. Foreign Service employees seek benefits for their heterosexual partners - lawsuit may challenge State Deparment's lack of equal treatment


Law professor Nancy Polikoff is author of Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families Under the Law. In the introduction to her book, she says that couples should "never have to marry to reap specific and unique legal benefits." (Law professor Suzanne Kim has recently advanced the related argument that same-sex marriage may "unsettle the hierarchical relationship between marriage and other forms of intimacy under the law.") This article suggests that as employers extend limited benefits to same-sex partners of employees, they face the problem of justifying restriction of these benefits on the basis of sexual orientation. One heterosexual couple has threatened to sue the State Department for discrimination over restricting its extension of benefits to same-sex partners of Foreign Service officers.

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