Ending Discrimination Against Gays Is Itself Discrimination

Last week Rep. Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 (H.R. 2410) which would, among other things, “end the long-standing practice of excluding the committed partners of Foreign Service officers from the benefits routinely provided to the spouses and children of officers serving abroad.”

The change would, in essence, “require the State Department to confer the same benefits to same-sex partners as it does to married couples.”

And guess what?  The Religious Right doesn’t like it:

Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst at Focus on the Family Action, pointed out that H.R. 2410 violates the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

“The public policy of the United States expressed through DOMA and other federal provisions is to promote one-man, one-woman marriage,” she said. “That is the gold standard by which the government does, and should continue to, offer benefits.”

That sort of complaint, while entirely predictable, appears downright sensible compared to this one from the Family Research Council:

Democrats in Congress and the Obama administration are not ready to attack traditional marriage directly, but they may be willing to have it die a death of a thousand cuts. Under the current version of H.R. 2410, the State Department budget reauthorization bill, taxpayers will be financially responsible for the same-sex partners of U.S. diplomats. The legislation calls for an end to “the long-standing practice of excluding the committed partners of Foreign Service officers from the benefits [like health care and travel] routinely provided to the spouses… serving abroad.”

If the House agrees to fund these “significant others,” the policy would be completely inconsistent with the Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids the government from treating same-sex partners as the equivalent of spouses. Ironically, House leaders are asking Congress to overturn the policy on the grounds of discrimination–even though the bill blatantly practices it. Under the current language, gays and lesbians are eligible for these perks, but heterosexual partners are not.

Apparently FRC considers offering the same benefits to committed partners of foreign affairs officers as are offered to spouses is itself discriminatory because such benefits are not being offered to “heterosexual partners.”

Of course, “heterosexual partners” could always get married and then they would receive the same benefits.  Except for a handful of states, gays can’t get married – thanks largely to the Religious Right – and even in those states where they can get married, the Right doesn’t want those legally vaild marriages recognized by the federal government in any way, shape, or form.

If gays could get married, this sort of thing wouldn’t even be an issue. But since the Religious Right is focused on making sure that never happens, we end up with efforts like this aimed at ensuring that the families of gay and straight foreign service officers are treated equally.

And how does the Right respond? By complaining about discrimination!