State Dept. to Set Policy on Gay Partner Benefits

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The State Department is set to make a new policy giving gay partners of U.S. diplomats many of the same benefits as married couples.

The Washington Posts reports a draft memo lists the benefits that unmarried gay and heterosexual partners will be eligible to receive, including paid travel to and from overseas posts, emergency travel to visit sick or injured partners, and emergency evacuation for medical or security reasons.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the change in policy is "the right thing to do." She said the current policy harms U.S. diplomacy, and that denying same-sex couples equal benefits is "unfair and must end."

The State Department previously said the Defense of Marriage Act kept it from offering benefits to the families of gay diplomats.

Meanwhile, the White House is pushing ahead with plans to allow gays to serve openly in the military. The news comes despite reports from inside the Pentagon that repealing "don't ask, don't tell" is a low priority for the Defense Department.

A Pentagon official said Tuesday that the military wants more time before the policy is rever because it will put already-stretched troops in the middle of a polarizing debate.

Still, that official says the military expects the ban to eventually be repealed.

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