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State Department offers same-sex benefits

WASHINGTON, May 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department says it plans to give equal benefits to same-sex partners of U.S. diplomats, including diplomatic passports.

"At bottom, the department will provide these benefits for both opposite-sex and same-sex partners because it is the right thing to do," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a memo.

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The benefits are to include the passports, use of medical facilities at overseas posts, emergency evacuation, transportation between posts and training in security and languages, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Gay and lesbian diplomats had lobbied for the benefits for several years, but the State Department previously invoked the Defense of Marriage Act, which limits federal recognition of same-sex unions.

The change will address an inequity in the treatment of domestic partners and help the State Department recruit diplomats, since many international employers already offer such benefits, Clinton said.

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