Posted: 23 July 2008 in bitter old woman, propaganda, queerlife, work

As expected, leaving the State Department was nearly as painful as getting in.  Surprisingly though, there wasn’t a lot of hoopla over my identification badge or security clearance, one signature and I just sort of faded off into the afternoon.  I still feel raw, ripped away, and there’s not enough whiskey to soothe the jagged edges.  In the meantime, please settle for my letter of resignation. 

First, a preface.  You already know I resigned in part because of the unchanging policies regarding partners.  In fact, my anger is directed more at the U.S. Government as a whole and the people who vote against such things than at the State Department itself.  Yes, small measures could be taken, but the bottom line?  The constant challenges and hurdles thrown up by our own government are discriminatory and the State Department is just an accessory.  I left rather than fight it out, but I think it’s a shame that, except for a cursory glance, my required resignation letter will go unread.  So here it is for you, to make me feel that someone has heard me.  Ahh, the sweet smell of freedom.  Points for sticking around.

June 10, 2008


Dear Secretary Rice:

It is with the deepest regret that I submit my resignation from the Foreign Service.   I have greatly enjoyed serving my country and the Department for ten years as a Foreign Service Officer.  During this time I served as a General Services Officer in both Sao Paulo and Maputo, as the Ethiopia Desk Officer, on the INR Watch, and as a Deputy Coordinator teaching A-100 for incoming Foreign Service Generalists.  However, I cannot in good conscience continue to subject my same-sex partner to discriminatory security, health, language, employment, training, travel and housing policies.

I would remain a Foreign Service Officer if I were confident that the Member of Household (MOH) policy would improve and offer support for my family.  However, the discrimination inherent in the current Department of State MOH policy makes my continued service impossible.  It is time the Department catch up to the private sector where the majority of Fortune 500 companies have domestic partnership benefits that that value employees and welcome their families.  Particularly in a climate of increasing numbers of unaccompanied and dangerous posts, it is unconscionable that the Department has chosen to disregard opportunities where forward looking leadership and vision would have made an immeasurable difference in my partner’s everyday life.

Thank you for the opportunity to spend ten years in service to the United States.  I have met so many wonderful people and along the way my colleagues have become my closest friends.   Despite the treatment of my family as second class citizenry, I will treasure my memories of public service with the Department.

  1. hannah says:

    I linked to this post from Digger’s site. I want to wish you the best of luck and all the happiness you can stand in Charlottesville. I thought your departure might be related to this but figured it was probably in poor taste to ask directly. I know this must have been a hard decision for you, and for what it’s worth, I respect you so much for the hard choice you just made. Thanks for everything.

  2. Shawn says:

    Hi backlist,

    I think the letter of resignation was eloquent and fair. Hopefully, it will get more than a cursory look.

    Best of luck in your new endeavors. The Foreign Service will be poorer without you.


  3. backlist says:

    Thank you. More words than that are stuck but best to you – in all the places you end up.

  4. Nitro and Ice says:

    Wow. We had no clue about this whole thing. And it kinda seems like we’re the only ones who didn’t.

  5. Lisa says:

    Well said!!!!! You are still so great with words! I am sorry that you had to leave under those circumstances, but then again, look who our president is!

  6. Prince Roy says:

    Late to the party. If the main reason you’ve resigned is b/c of State policy, this is indeed unfortunate. If it was just one thing among many, it is also a shame. Best of luck to you in academia.

    It’s a good letter, but I’m curious as to what exactly you have to thank Sec. Rice for–she had nothing to do with your hiring or your ten years of service.

    I don’t know her take on Gay and Lesbian issues, or if she has addressed Congress regarding this in her capacity as Secretary of State, but this is one area where I think the top leadership has earned a failing grade.

    The refusal of the federal government to recognize gay marriage among its employees is discrimination of the most invidious sort. It is Loving vs. Virginia all over again. The ‘strict scrutiny’ standard should apply and there is no defense for it.

    I can only hope this changes during my career so we quit losing good people. This policy is as dumb and shortsighted as the one in the military.

  7. backlist says:

    Thanks for your comment! Good catch on the thank you, an unfortunate consequence of the drafting process; enough folks suggested the might get read more carefully if the tone were a gracious one. I don’t know if that’s true, but I didn’t have much to lose.

    I don’t thank the Secretary. In fact, I hold her responsible for the stagnant HR policies at State. Following in Powell’s footsteps may have been difficult but it wasn’t impossible to continue building his good will and making changes where possible. I left because of the MOH policy and because I disagree with the way assignments to Iraq are handled. It was just time for me to move on.

    Best of luck to you – I’ve enjoyed reading your blog over the years. Here’s to a stellar career.

  8. DC says:

    I agree with Shawn on your letter. Good luck in your future!

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