The United States government’s queer discrimination runs deeper than we thought. Politico reports this morning that the Pentagon attempted to block Tammy Baldwin from traveling with her long time lover, Lauren Azar, with whom she exchanged domestic partner vows in 1998.
While Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his cronies claim Azar doesn’t count as a “spouse,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi came out in full force for Baldwin.
In appealing to Gates, Pelosi aides said their boss was simply asking the defense secretary to follow a precedent established by her predecessor, former Republican Rep. Dennis Hastert of Illinois. Pelosi told Gates that Hastert had allowed Baldwin to take Azar on a previous trip abroad.
Gates, who was apparently unaware of any earlier trips, told the speaker that she was responsible for the House travel rules and had the authority to make an exception, according to officials on and off the Hill. His only requirement was that Pelosi send him a letter authorizing the trip. Pelosi sent such a letter moments after the phone call ended, and Azar was allowed on the plane.
The Department of Defense makes clear to Politico that their decision simply reflects a deal with Pelosi and should not be taken as a precedent. Aren’t they charming?
This wouldn’t be the first time the government treated its gay employees’ differently. Former Romanian Ambassador Michael Guest resigned in protest last year after trying unsuccessfully to amend State Department policy on same-sex couples. While straight partners are granted access to security and language training, their queer counterparts must fend for themselves.
Openly gay Representative Barney Frank blames the Baldwin situation on the current administration, “I think the military was following orders. I think the administration disapproves of same-sex marriage.” It seems to us that the issue goes much deeper than just this administration, but indicates severe flaws in our nation’s political landscape – one that’s clearly skewed toward straight citizens.
If the government wants to shine the light of liberal democracy in places like Iraq, we suggest they do the same here in the States. It’s pretty disheartening that the Department of Defense refuses to include same-sex partners under their spousal guidelines. But, you know, that’s just our homo opinion.