LGB RPCV NewsLetter - May 2006 In This Issue

NewsLetter

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May 2006

 Security for Gay PCV Writers  What DOMA Means for Overseas Assignments  Gay Life in Benin?  Diversity Training in Tanzania  Immigration: LGBT PCVs and Their Host Country Partners  Gay Testimonial in New PC Publication  New Job for PC Director

ay’s issue begins with an explanation of the security issues we consider when publishing articles from current volunteers.  This is followed by articles from two current volunteers, one in Benin, one in Tanzania.  Suzanne Marks describes the DOMA related problems facing same sex partners working overseas.  A recent RPCV describes the long journey that he and his male host country partner have taken to secure their relationship.  The new PC Recruiting Catalog features a testimonial from a distinguished gay RPCV.

Security Issues for Authors of LGB RPCV Newsletter Articles
In this issue the authors of three of the four main articles are not identified by name. Two are current volunteers in Africa, one a lesbian, one a gay man. A third article is written by a gay RPCV who is establishing an immigrant identity in Canada so that he can live with the partner he met during his Peace Corps service. We have authored articles anonymously in the past, but never so many in one issue of the newsletter. So what’s up? What’s up is that LGBT volunteers are under greater pressure than ever to remain discrete in their host countries. Not so long ago, gay and other human rights issues were little known in much of the developing world where Peace Corps volunteers serve. Today, the scene has changed. People who are “out” and gay activists are seen in many places as one more group who threaten the traditional and often oppressive status quo. There was a time when many gay Peace Corps volunteers could be somewhat “out” and “active” and nobody would much know what was going on. Times have

- Mike Learned, editor, RPCV Malawi
changed. Gay male volunteers seem to be more vulnerable than lesbians, at least from the stories I’ve heard. Our newsletter and individual articles go on our web site, and other web sites around the world often link to them. Google and other search engines continue to improve. The internet is an extraordinary medium, but it can expose Peace Corps volunteers

Anything that goes on a blog or an internet site like ours is everywhere and forever. We take that seriously into account.
who are in a vulnerable place in their traditional (and very homophobic) communities. Many volunteers now have blogs. The nature of a blog is that it is often very personal, irreverent, and meant for a closed audience of friends and family. Some volunteers (gay and
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straight) have found themselves in embarrassing situations when local people have found their blog addresses, and read things not meant for their eyes. Anything that goes on a blog or an internet site like ours is everywhere and forever. We take that seriously into account. Not all the news is discouraging. Read the article in this issue about the volunteer led Peace Corps staff training in Tanzania. At least at the professional level some progress is being made. Our aim is to get as much information about the lives of LGBT volunteers out there where people who are interested can find it. If that means shielding the identity of the volunteer while she or he is still serving, so be it. Our advice to current volunteers is to have us publish their articles unidentified by name. This is to protect them from public exposure, rejection, scorn, intimidation, visits by local police and violence. All of these things have happened. These security issues are real!

LGB RPCV NewsLetter - May 2006

Is There Gay Life in Benin?
- a Current PC Volunteer
Arriving in Africa, I was certain that I would be signing a two year vow of celibacy and a contract for a non-gay existence. I knew that this would be difficult. Although I am not the type of guy who only shops in gay markets and eats in gay restaurants, I do enjoy hanging out with other like minded guys and dabbling in the gay social scene. After a few months of ‘stage’ in Benin, my role as a PCV changed drastically, as my villageois lifestyle as a TEFL volunteer melted away, and I took on an HIV/AIDS prevention project for Beninese youth with a large American NGO in Cotonou, the largest city in Benin. With a population of 700,000 people, a large expatriate community, a smattering of foreign restaurants, and a host of activities to keep me busy, I knew that my Peace Corps experience would be very different from that of my fellow PCVs. I also knew that this was my chance, if any, to glimpse a trace of the homosexual community in Benin. I was, after all, the only out gay volunteer, so I had to look elsewhere for my gay brethren. Keeping in mind that homosexuality is illegal in Benin and that any involvement with such issues could endanger my place as a volunteer, I set out to find a sign of its existence. Over the course of my first six months at post, I deftly posed non incriminating questions to my colleagues and to the people I met… ‘What is the urban view of homosexuality?’ ‘How does it differ from that of the village view?’ ‘Does HIV/AIDS prevention material address homosexuality?’ ‘What’s the word for homosexuality in Fon?’ ‘Do you know any homosexuals?’ The majority of responses were rather vapid and noncommittal, quick shrugs. For them, homosexuality was such a non-entity in Benin—something that exists in Europe and America but had not ‘infected’ Africa. Some responses indicated beliefs that homosexuality was a gene only found in white people. Although men walked hand in hand down the street, this union was entirely nonsexual; locals were quick to identify this as completely normal, entirely replete of any homosexual undertones. I was not quite so sure. Sometimes I felt that the inquisitive looks that I received while walking down the street from Beninese men were more than a slight curiosity—the particular ‘I know about you’ gleam was in their eye, albeit fleeting and inconclusive. Still, I kept on my path of discovery. Even though I had no hard proof and everyone seemed to deny the existence of homosexuality—no one spoke against it either. their closest friends knew. They both maintained a separate public life and only indulged in the presence of each other behind closed and locked doors. How sad…my initial reaction made me feel pity for their situation. But, in this society, where such behavior is not ‘common’ and completely unacceptable and worthy of imprisonment or even death (not legal death, but traditional villageois ‘death by burning’)…at least their highly secretive life affords them some amount of existence as the gay men they are. They can be with each other in private and lie to others in public. I imagined other private love affairs scattered throughout the city and country: so much for Africans being immune to the gay gene. To this day, not two months after this initial contact, I have yet to have any gay friends. The couple that I met remains elusive to me, and though I have heard that others exist and even socialize together, I have yet to be privy to such information. A non-gay friend mentioned hearing about a gay bar—though with no name and no address, I was rather SOL in finding this rare jewel. From time to time, my questions yield answers, though not always positive responses. For example, I learned that one expatriate was put in jail and had to flee the country due to rumors that he practiced homosexual sex; I will have to remain careful, especially in light of recent events in Cameroon. I will continue to wait, and I will continue to observe. I have learned that life in Benin is full of mystery and surprises…so I shall remain patient and see what materializes. So much in life happens when you least expect it, and often the answer is closer than we think. Who knows, maybe my neighbors are gay? You can contact the author at slywhit@gmail.com

homosexuality was such a non-entity in Benin—something that exists in Europe and America...
I continued to lie about my socalled ‘girlfriend’ in France—never mind the fact that she was a he; it helped to explain why I was not married or even interested in the plethora of available women. I kept telling myself that there must be a gay community in Cotonou—convincing myself that any city of relative size was sure to have an active homosexual presence, no matter how hidden. At the same time, I must admit, I was beginning to lose faith in finding any evidence, and I began to resolve myself to the belief that whatever community there was would continue to evade me. Then, when I least expected it, I found it. Or rather, I found a trace of it, with promises that there were more. While at a housewarming party for a fellow American, I met a Beninese guy and his, ‘shhh’ boyfriend. I was elated. Finally, a glimpse. Unfortunately, that was all that was to be provided to me. I learned that their secret was so hidden, that not even
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LGB RPCV NewsLetter - May 2006

Impact of DOMA on US Government Workers
Jan accepted an overseas assignment to do disease surveillance work for the federal government in Africa three years ago. Both Jan and Judy, her partner of fifteen years, knew ahead of time which expenses would not be covered for Judy. Judy had to pay her own travel expenses and insurance coverage to join Jan. Judy also had to reapply for a visa every six months to enable her to stay in the country as a foreign visitor. After two years, Judy became tired of this and flew to the US one year before Jan was scheduled to return. Tom is an expert in communication. He and his partner, Tim, have been together for 20 years. He has wanted to take an overseas assignment for quite some time, but decided against it because he would not be able to bring Tim with him. Sarah is an expert in substance abuse treatment and infectious disease prevention. She and her partner, Susan, have two young children. Sarah, like Tom, has decided against taking an overseas assignment because there would be no support or services for her family.

- Suzanne Marks, RPCV Togo

These three real scenarios (with the names changed) may or may not be representative of GLBT couples’ overseas experiences, but were the context for which I researched the federal government policies and procedures that follow. The scenarios reveal some of the impact of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on GLBT federal employees who are coupled or who have children and on their opportunities to perform critically needed work overseas.

Peace Corps explicitly prohibits the placement of Peace Corps volunteers as couples unless they are a man and a woman who are married.
DOMA was passed by Congress in 1996 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. DOMA formally defined “marriage” as a legal union only between one man and one woman and “spouse” as an opposite-sex married partner. Thus, unmarried partners, same-sex or otherwise, cannot be considered as married or spouses under US law. DOMA affects the opportunities for and issues faced by LGBT federal government employees in international job placements. Typically for international placements, the federal government will pay for travel expenses, diplomatic passports, evacuation expenses, medical vaccinations, and family miscellaneous transfer allowances for married heterosexual spouses and their minor children. Spouses are also given preference for local-hire jobs at embassies, allowed access to embassy medical units, and permitted use of the diplomatic pouch for postal services.
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PO Box 14332 San Francisco CA 94114-4332 lgbrpcv@lgbrpcv.org http://www.lgbrpcv.org

Editor Mike Learned Layout Kevin H. Souza The LGB RPCV Newsletter is published quarterly by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual RPCV Organization, an affiliate of the National Peace Corps Association. We promote Peace Corps ideals and the legal, political and social rights of LGBT people throughout the world. We encourage the submission of articles or photographs for the newsletter. The right to use or edit materials remains with the editor. Copyright remains with the author. Send submissions or inquiries to the above postal or e-mail address.

The US Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 3 (3 FAM 1212) states that personnel programs for civil service and foreign service employees of the foreign affairs agencies (US Department of State, the US Agency for International Development--USAID, US Department of Commerce, the Foreign Service Corps of the US Department of Agriculture, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors) shall be administered without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. As of the end of 2000 (and formalized in 2003), the State Department instituted a new policy (3 FAM 4180) for members of households (MOHs) of Foreign Service Employees of the State Department, USAID, and the Commerce Department that provides some benefits to accommodate same-sex partners, unmarried opposite-sex partners, and other family members at the discretion of individual ambassadors. These benefits are often limited to those that do not have a significant financial impact, such as providing access to embassy services/activities and assisting visa applications; they expressly do not allow inclusion of MOHs on travel orders or in emergency evacuation plans. On the other hand, travel expenses for pets, deemed necessary for employee morale, are covered. Peace Corps explicitly prohibits the placement of Peace Corps volunteers as couples unless they are a man and a woman who are married. Staff, however, can and do live with same sex domestic partners overseas. There are Country Directors, APCDs, and other staff who live openly with their same sex partners. State Department policies do not specifically apply to Peace Corps employees or volunteers. However, once oversees, 3 FAM 4180 allows for unmarried partners to be included in the embassy community, which may allow access to some benefits. In some cases, the partners of continued on page 7

LGB RPCV NewsLetter - May 2006

Diversity Training for PC Staff in Tanzania
- a Current PC Volunteer
In February, Peace Corps/Tanfive or ten minutes, facilitators opened zania’s Peer Support and Diversity the floor for questions. Nervousness Network (PSDN) held a successful and fears about the staff’s reaction on training for Peace Corps staff. PSDN the part of the panelists were instantly is a volunteer-run organization that alleviated. As one peer supporter was founded in June 2005 and based wrote “the members of the panel were on the structure of similar groups in suddenly flooded with thoughtful neighboring Peace Corps countries. and sincere questions and comments PSDN trains interested Peace Corps from the staff, which were nearly all volunteers to become “peer supportprefaced with heartfelt thanks for the ers,” who are then utilized by their panelists in regard to their honesty fellow volunteers for emotional supand courage in regards to sharing port. Because Peace Corps service their stories. The staff’s response was can be especially overwhelmingly stressful for PCVs positive, with many A highlight of the from diverse backquestions concerntwo-day staff training grounds, PSDN has ing sexuality as it is focused extensively was a panel discussion something many of on diversity trainthe Tanzanian staff in which PCVs from a ings. The February members openly variety of ethnic, relistaff training was admitted to having one example of limited knowledge gious, and sexual oriPSDN’s efforts. and information entation backgrounds A highlight of on.” talked about their exthe two-day staff The staff’s training was a questions were periences. Four volunpanel discussion thoughtful and varteers identifying themin which PCVs ied. Some asked from a variety of about the panelselves as gay, lesbian, ethnic, religious, or bisexual were among ists experiencesitin and sexual orientaAmerica (what the panelists who tion backgrounds was like to come talked about their out to family, etc.), shared their stories. experiences. Four while others asked volunteers identiif panelists thought fying themselves as gay, lesbian, or being gay, lesbian, or bisexual was bisexual were among the panelists a choice or biologically determined. who shared their stories. The staff wondered if the PCVs on Many of the volunteers on the the panel wanted children and when diversity panel were nervous about they realized they were “different”. “coming out” to the approximately The training participants were split thirty staff members who attended up into small groups, each headed by the training. While PCVs work a PCV on the panel. This enabled all closely with those who attended, the involved to discuss diversity issues in panel was the first time that many a less formal, but more intimate, way. of them had shared something so The training ended with an exdeeply personal with Peace Corps change of ideas lead by the staff staff members. Most of the trainings participants. PCVs and staff brainparticipants were Tanzanian and in stormed ways staff could better help Tanzania, like in many Peace Corps to support volunteers from diverse countries, homosexuality is illegal. backgrounds. When feedback was After each panelist had talked for collected from the staff and PCVs on
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Anonymous comments from staff included: “Brave, Mature, Honest, Real. Continue with all of it. I’m proud of you all.” “Excellent- Very wonderful open forum to share, learn & grow from other’s joys, struggles & passion.” “I’m so delighted that this training took place. I’m now aware of what’s happening in terms of diversity! A big hug for all PSDN members. I’m fully equipped to support you!” “The training was very informative. It has made me change the views toward orientations, choices & preferences that I have had for 29 years.” the panel, the sentiments expressed were overwhelming positive. Everyone who participated in the training felt empowered. PSDN looks forward to continuing a dialogue with staff regarding diversity and to providing staff with resources and knowledge to enable them to support volunteers in the field. PSDN members and staff share the goal of ensuring all volunteers have a positive and productive Peace Corps service. Building on the success of the February training will make this more possible than ever before. You can contact this volunteer at lgbrpcv-news@lgbrpcv.org

LGB RPCV NewsLetter - May 2006

Dilemmas and Solutions for Bi-national Same Sex Couples - an RPCV, Asia

Editor’s note: Last August we Even if a consular officer sympaMy partner and I have considered published an article titled Immigrathized with a particular case, he or all such schemes to “get around” tion Barriers for Same Sex Partshe would be forbidden by law from immigration policies. In the end, we ners. Since then we have referred issuing a same sex partner a visa undecided to always abide by the letmany current and recent Peace Corps der that pretext. The amount of monter of the law. The risk of his being volunteers to it (http://www.lgbrpcv. ( ey one has is quite irrelevant. Money blacklisted is too high, and neither org/articles/08_05_immigration.htm org/articles/08_05_immigration.htm) has little to do with sponsoring of us wanted to face the prospect and to the Immigration Equality websomebody for permanent residence. of his never being allowed into the site (http://www.immigrationequality. ( Only immediate family members can country. We would have sacrificed org ). An RPCV sponsor immiour long-term goal of being together who has had much grants. Legally, we forever for immediate but transitory We immediately were are not families. experience with this gratification. Instead, we have chosen faced with the reality issue has agreed to Some American to be patient, strategic, deliberate and share some of his partners talk about diligent. that there is absolutely and his host country the possibility of Let me say that not everything is no provision in U.S. partner’s efforts a marriage of conhopeless. Let’s look at the options. to live together in Short-term, a non-American partimmigration law that al- venience, a foreign the same place in a partner marrying ner can apply for a tourist visa (B-2). lows same-sex spouses an American of the These visas are issued for one-year. committed and esto come to the United tablished relationopposite sex for Usually, an individual is allowed to ship. They are now the purpose of imstay in the country for ninety days States. in the process of migration. There per visit, but she or he may reenter establishing themare of course multiple times throughout the course selves in Canada. moral questions of the year. An individual on a B-2 Because their immigration and related to consider, but those are personal visa is not allowed to earn an income issues are not fully settled, we are not considerations left to one’s own in the United States. Applying for using his name, but we will forward system of values. Rather, I thought B-2 visas gives rise to much anxiety. any email messages from readers to more about the potential dangers The decision about whether to issue him. of such a strategy. The post-9/11 this visa is essentially at the whim of environment is one visa officer. A For three of the last four years my quite severe where negative decision The risk of his being partner and I lived apart as we have immigration policy is not subject to blacklisted is too high, tried to find a legal and ethical resoluis concerned. The appeal. tion to the immigration problems of a Bureau of CitizenThe key to and neither of us wantbi-national same sex couple. We met ship and Immigrasecuring a B-2 visa ed to face the prospect while I was a Peace Corps volunteer in tion Services is is to put yourself of his never being alAsia. He was finishing up a graduate far more rigorous in the mind of the degree at a nearby university. Because in its examination lowed into the country. visa officer, to I had reasonably private living quarof marriages. The think about what he ters, we lived together for two of my ruse one would or she is thinking three year’s of service. It was a happy have to play for when making the time for us and we decided to figure an extended period of time would be decision. The only mandate given out how to spend the rest of our lives quite demanding. The risk of getting to a visa officer is to prevent illegal together. caught is quite high. Not only are immigration to the United States. We immediately were faced with marriages of convenience a violation Sure, he or she is also screening for the reality that there is absolutely no of federal law, but they also put your potential terrorists and criminals, provision in U.S. immigration law partner at risk of being permanently but this screening is primarily acthat allows same-sex spouses to come blacklisted. If caught, your partner complished through sophisticated to the United States. The Defense of might be jailed, deported and barred database systems. In examining your Marriage Act of 1996 prevents any from entering the United States ever case, the visa officer is asking, “What federal official from recognizing the again. I don’t think that this is a risk is the probability that this person is legitimacy of same-sex relationships. worth taking. Continued on page 6
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LGB RPCV NewsLetter - May 2006

Bi-national Same Sex Couples
Continued from page 5 going to overstay his visa and remain in the United States asylum case workers is extremely difficult, very time conillegally?” suming, and not without risks. Moreover, your partner may Obviously, this process is horribly subjective, and I’ve not be permitted to return to his or her home country for heard plenty of horror stories about bitter consular officers a long time, which means not seeing family and friends. who denied visas perfectly legitimate individuals. ThereI think there is also a moral issue in seeking asylum for fore, it is incredibly important to build your case with convenience. If some gays apply for asylum merely as a plenty of supporting documents that show that your partner means to immigrate to the United States, they dilute the does not plan to illegally immigrate. persuasive power of gays with genuine reasons for seeking Which documents you include depends on your situaasylum. tion. The optimal variant is to have a pretext for the visit. The final option, of course, is to look at other countries, For example, my partner is a scientist and has been able several of which offer immigration rights to same-sex partto secure visas to attend scientific conferences. Another ners. Canada is the best option when one of the partners is reason may be a family life-cycle event, such as a weda U.S. citizen. This is the option that my partner and I are ding. We were able to arrange for my partner’s mother and now pursuing. He has been able to secure a Canadian visa, sister to come to the U.S. for my sister’s and I am now the partner looking for a wedding - even though they both belong job and work visa. The final option, of to high-risk categories: single women These are the primary options availfrom a particular country. Again, it was a course, is to look at able to you. An immigration lawyer matter of making the case and documenttell you the same thing other countries, several will $100. I know; I’ve beenand charge ing the case. Other evidence that your you down of which offer immigra- that road. Believe me, over the past partner does not intend to immigrate illegally include assets, career, family four years, we have looked at every tion rights to same-sex and other obligations in her or his home possible alternative, and I’ve become partners. Canada is the country. an expert on U.S. immigration policies. What case a former Peace Corps Our nation’s immigration policies are best option when one volunteer makes depends on the indiThey are of the partners is a U.S. a mess; there’s no denying it. and convidual situation. I would caution one not discriminatory, short-sighted citizen. to lie or make up a situation. Always be tradictory - not just for queer folk but upfront and honest with the consular offifor lots of other categories of people. cer. These people are trained to sniff out A very important initial step is to lies, and if they catch even a whiff of deception, they will have a very open and honest dialogue with your partner deny your visa application. Once denied, it is very difficult about what this journey is going to entail. Discuss the to get a visa. It’s not worth the risk. alternatives available to you and the sacrifices - profesAnother option is a work-visa. This option, however, re- sionally, emotionally, and financially - that each of you quires that your partner work in a field for which he could will need to make for each alternative. Also, discuss the find an American employer willing to sponsor his work emotional challenges you are going to face considering visa (usually H1-B, although there are other types). This that you are about to be confronted with a long-term longis also very specific to the individual. The advantages of distance relationship. This is not easy, but the only way a work visa should be obvious. Your partner is allowed to your relationship will weather the storm is to keep the lines work and reside in the U.S. for an extended period. A work of communication open and honest at all times. visa can possibly lead to a green card. If you decide that you both are committed to making Education is also an option. Your partner can apply to your relationship work, you can make it work. My partner a U.S. higher education institution for a degree program and I have finally ended this most difficult phase of our (BA, MA or Ph.D.). Couples have had mixed results relationship. The path has been difficult, and at times we with this strategy. It requires significant coordination and thought that we wouldn’t make it. But now that we are financial commitment. Not all people who are accepted at the next phase, I can tell you that it has been worth the into degree programs are issued visas. On the other hand, struggle. We are living together in a nice apartment of our when it works, it works fairly well, because people may be own in a major Canadian city. He is working and I am qualified to apply for U.S. jobs later on. looking for a job. Another option is for your partner to seek asylum in the United States. Many gay men have tried this route. SomeThe author of this article can be reached by emailing times, there really is a case of persecution that justifies lgbrpcv-news@lgbrpcv.org the claim. Proving such persecution to the satisfaction of
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LGB RPCV NewsLetter - May 2006

Peace Corp Recruiting Catalog Features Gay Testimonial
For the first time, Peace Corps’ Recruiting Catalog features a testimonial from a distinguished gay RPCV. This latest edition has just been released. Ryan Wertz served as a Rural Youth Development Volunteer in The Philippines, 1989-1990 and as an Agro-Forestry Volunteer in Panama, 1990-1994. His testimonial: “People often ask me if being gay made it more difficult to serve in the Peace Corps. In all honesty, I don’t think that it did. In many of the countries where Volunteers serve, there is little tolerance for sexual diversity. All Peace Corps Volunteers need to respect the cultural norms of the people they are assigned to serve. I did not need to give up who I was as a person in order to be a successful Volunteer. However, I did need to balance my own identity with the belief systems of the people for whom I worked.”

Peace Corps Director Nominated for New Job

Write an Article for Our Newsletter

On April 25 President Bush announced his intention to nominate Peace Corps Director, Gaddi Vasquez to be the United States Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture. Director Vasquez said that if the Senate approves his nomination, he will be honored to serve in this new capacity. He also said that in the meantime, there is still much work to be done at the Peace Corps, and that he looks forward to continuing his work supporting the almost 8,000 Volunteers who are serving throughout the world. Although our organization initially opposed his nomination in 2001, Director Vasquez has proven himself a tireless supporter of Peace Corps. Only two other Directors have served longer. We wish Director Vasquez well in his new assignment. We are concerned about who will succeed him either as Acting and/or permanent Director. We’ll keep you informed as the succession steps progress.

We have an 11 year tradition of featuring articles and stories written by volunteers and RPCVs who have been active in their communities and professional lives since their time in Peace Corps. We provide information about the LGBT experience in Peace Corps for members of our community who are considering this experience and service. There is no better source of information than that provided by those who have contributed to our newsletter and web site over the years. If you’ve got a story to tell that promotes Peace Corps ideals and the legal, political and social rights of LGBT people around the world,” we’re interested in hearing from you. Contact editor, Mike Learned (lgbrpcvnews@lgbrpcv.org) with your articles, ideas or questions.

Marriage Act...

continued from page 3 Peace Corps staff may not be American citizens. This adds to the complexities of inconsistent policies. As with other federal agencies, the same sex partner is subject to the limitations and peculiarities of different situations, different countries, and the good or bad will of a local ambassador. Developing personal relationships with embassy staff may help improve the quality of life for same-sex partners. DOMA affects not only LGBT federal employees and their families, but also the people of the foreign countries who will not receive the benefits of their work if they decide against foreign placement. Moreover, continued discrimination against LGBT families endangers our well-being in emergency situations and sends a message to the global community that we are not yet given the status of persons (or even of pets). DOMA imposes unequal treatment on unmarried partners and families of LGBT employees because of the inability of same-sex partners to legally marry to the satisfaction of the US govern7

ment. However, some federal agencies have made efforts to accommodate unmarried partners and families to the extent allowed by current US law and local policies of the embassy in the foreign country. Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA, www.glifaa.org ) represents LGBT persons in the Department of State, US Agency for International Development, Foreign Commercial Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, and other US government agencies. On its website (www.glifaa.org) are two relevant articles that provided background information for this article: Foreign Affairs Family Life for Gays and Lesbians. Federal Daily. June 22, 2004; and, Not Quite Family: ‘Members of Household’ at State. Foreign Service Journal. June 2004. Suzanne Marks is LGB RPCV’s Southeast Representative. She can be contacted at lgbrpcv-news@lgbrpcv.org.

LGB RPCV NewsLetter - May 2006

Who are we?

Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

We’re an organization of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people and others who are former volunteers, current volunteers, former and current staff members and friends. Founded in Washington D.C. in 1991 we have several hundred members throughout the country and around the world who have served in the Peace Corps since its beginning in 1961. We are made up of a national steering committee and two regional chapters: the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington D.C. We are an active affiliate member of the National Peace Corps Association.

What’s our purpose? What do we do?

We promote Peace Corps ideals and the legal, political and social rights of LGBT people throughout the world.  Provide support to our national members and current volunteers.  Actively involve ourselves as an affiliate of the National Peace Corps Association.  Offer through our Mentor Program informational resources and mentors for LGBT applicants, potential applicants and those offered a Peace Corps assignment.  Take an active part in Gay Pride events around the country encouraging LGBT people to consider the Peace Corps experience.  Promote policies and projects that support the acceptance and active involvement of LGBT people within Peace Corps.  Host social events for our members.  Communicate regularly with our members and others through our web site, quarterly newsletter and listserv. New Membership | Address Update Form Name: Street: City: Phone: Country of Service: PC Project: State: E-mail: Years: Current Work: 05/06 Zip:
New Member Change of Address/Renewal I would talk with PC applicants about my experience.

Membership: $15 for LGB RPCV Affiliate Only or FREE to Current Volunteers $50 for LGB RPCV Plus the National Peace Corps Association (http://www.rpcv.org) LGB RPCVs; PO Box 14332; San Francisco, CA 94114-4332 e-mail: lgbrpcv@lgbrpcv.org | http://www.lgbrpcv.org
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