- The Washington Times - Monday, January 31, 2000

Benefits for gays?

Homosexual diplomats are pushing for the same benefits for their lovers as the wives and husbands of Foreign Service officers now receive.
The group, Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, has asked the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) to lobby the State Department for 13 changes in personnel rules.
AFSA last month endorsed the changes for the "unmarried domestic partners" of both homosexual and heterosexual Foreign Service officers, the Washington Blade reports.
John Nalan, an AFSA vice president, sent a telegram in November to all U.S. diplomatic posts to ask for comments on the proposed personnel changes.
"AFSA believes that the unique circumstances of overseas service make it imperative for the department to reduce barriers that employees with unmarried domestic partners face in trying to live their private lives while stationed abroad," he wrote, according to a copy of the telegram obtained by the Blade.
"It is unreasonable to expect employees to leave behind their unmarried domestic partners."
The proposed personnel changes include recommendations that the State Department help domestic partners obtain visas, provide them with identification papers, include them in evacuation plans, and invite them to diplomatic functions.
The State Department in May refused to grant spousal benefits to two homosexual employees for their domestic partners.
AFSA President Marshall Adair told the Blade he is hopeful some of the measures will be adopted.
"What I anticipate is that we will be involved in discussions with the State Department for some time," he said. "I think they'll talk seriously with us."

Diplomatic baggage

The new U.S. ambassador to Brazil is carrying a little diplomatic baggage that might embarrass him in his new post, but he is trying to put the best spin on U.S.-Brazilian relations.
"I believe Brazil can look forward to greatness in the new millennium," Ambassador Anthony Harrington said after arriving in Brazil on Friday.
"Relations between the U.S. and Brazil have never been better."
However, as the Reuters news agency reported, his appointment "has raised some eyebrows locally because of his past ties to a U.S. telephone company that is in a tax dispute with the Brazilian government."
Mr. Harrington was the co-founder of SouthernNet, which has merged with MCI as Telecom-USA.
MCI WorldCom Inc., the parent company, is disputing $650 million in back taxes owed by Embratel, a Brazilian telephone company it bought in 1998. U.S. officials have warned Brazil that its international investment image could be damaged if the dispute is not settled soon.
Brazil is the world's fourth-largest recipient of foreign investment.
Mr. Harrington, a lawyer from Taylorsville, N.C., was general counsel for President Clinton's 1992 election campaign. He has also chaired the President's Intelligence Oversight Board and was vice chairman of his Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
* Filip Vujanovic, prime minister of Montenegro, who holds talks with members of Congress and administration officials. He also appears on a panel discussion with invited guests at the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday. Other panelists include Srdjan Darmanovic, director of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights, and Veselin Vukotic, managing director of the Center for Entrepreneurship.
* Lee Hee-ho, first lady of South Korea, who attends the National Prayer Breakfast.
* Shaw Yu-Ming, deputy general secretary of Taiwan's Kuomintang party, who holds a 9 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club.
* Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam.
* Vafa Guluzade, former national security adviser of Azerbaijan, and Eldar Namazov, a member of the Azerbaijan parliament. They address invited guests at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.

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