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Pentagon Denied Gay Rep's Request to Travel with Partner

Pentagon Denied Gay Rep's Request to Travel with Partner

The Pentagon initially denied Representative Tammy Baldwin's request to bring her domestic partner with her on a fact-finding trip to Europe over the Easter recess. As usual, the delegation traveled on a military flight. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi petitioned Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, before the trip was approved.

At the center of the story is the definition of "spouse." According to the House guidelines, members of Congress can travel with spouses so long as there is room, and protocol requires it. The same goes for an adult child; however, Congress must be reimbursed for the second guest. Baldwin and her partner have exchanged vows, but her home state of Wisconsin does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Apparently Secretary Gates told Speaker Pelosi that it was up to her to make an exception. To see what happened,


Once Gates received a formal request for an exception, he approved the flight. Pelosi insisted that she was simply following the precedent set by her predecessor Dennis Hassert. But, Hassert's former aides said he was unaware that Baldwin's domestic partner flew with her, until the trips already were underway.

While we can all argue about tax money being used to transport guests, it does seem unfair to make a gay congresswoman jump through extra hoops, involving the Speaker of the House and the Secretary of Defense, for a routine trip. Perhaps spouses shouldn't be allowed on these vacations, uh, I mean fact-finding trips. But since they are, should unrecognized spouses be allowed, too?


Join The Conversation
Auntie-Coosa Auntie-Coosa 9 years
They should just change the law and allow a Congressperson to bring "one" other person with them if the Congress person pays for it and if the other person passes the top secret security inspection. So if a Congressperson wants to bring a hooker with him, then as long as she's got top secret security clearance, he should be able to do that. And if another Congressperson wants to bring a male escort with her, as long as he passes the top secret security inspection, sure, go with it. In order to have time for the FBI and CIA to make the inspections, Congresspeople should submit the names of any men and women they plan to take with them on various overseas trips by the first of the year prior to the year they may take trips overseas. Now, if someone likes menage a trois, Congress will have to change the law. And since Nancy Pelosi has done such a bang up job getting bills our of committee and onto the House floor, we will put her in charge of changing the "one person per trip" law. /sarcasm anyone?
remedios remedios 9 years
funny how the complaints arise now.
remedios remedios 9 years
ah our democracy at work... only for those that are in the majority though.
MarandaLaura MarandaLaura 9 years
aWhat you have to realize is that she is not an ordinary businesswoman, she is a federal official and as such she does NOT have all the same rights as ordinary civilians. That is a part of the job. And why on Earth would she need to bring her life partner along on an official fact finding trip? They weren't going on a company vacation, they were going on a government trip on government business and non-Department of Defense civilians are not only not required on that typ of trip, they would be grossly out of place. This is not a gay issue, this is a policy issue. How many of you showing outrage skipped right over the part about, "Spouse AND required by protocol"? what possible Department of Defense business would REQUIRE someone to have their significant other with them? NONE is the right answer to that. This woman almost certainly has Secret Clearance or higher and yet she is acting like a four year old when she didn't get her way, trying to claim that her request, which was outside of established policy and she knew that, is discrimination based on her sexuality. That is unacceptable coming from a government official. And to those of you who think the federal government has the right to force states to change the way they define marriage, you need to do a closer study of your home nation. marriage is not something the federal government has much if any activity in.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
sorry, i think she should pay for it.
reesiecup reesiecup 9 years
our country still has a looooong way to go it seems
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 9 years
This isn't fair. She had every right to take her partner/spouse with her.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I really believe in states rights, however, there are some cross-border issues that surround marriage that make a national clarification necessary (health insurance, etc.) Also, when it comes to civil rights, I don't think some states should be exempt, no matter what their citizens think. I am sure some states would have wanted to hang on to Jim Crow laws, but it is unConstitutional to deny rights to some and not others. I feel that any law that prevents 2 consenting adults from protecting their estate is illegal. There is no legal justification for the seperate and unequal treatment that same sex couples endure. For most couples, they can carry on dispite the unjust treatment. I have known a couple, however, that faced tragic consequences based on these laws. They had set up wills for each other, but when one fell deathly ill, the family of the sick person barred the partner from seeing his loved one during the last days of his life. They were together for over 10 years, and yet he wasn't allowed into the hospital room to see his soul mate.
GeriAnne1932 GeriAnne1932 9 years
Most likely her partner will get to be a guest at a dinner party or something like every other spouse in history has always done...spouses always travel with goverment officials...they meet with the other spouses and such. She should be allowed. I live in Wisconsin and we have always been proud of Tammy and it's so ridiculous that this is even an issue. Because there is no definition of spouse but if it smells like cheese, tastes like cheese, looks like cheese it must be cheese....her partner acts like a spouse and so why not. Just let her have one benefit in life since she can't have so many in this stupid state.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
Oh, also, the article notes that her home state does *not* recognize the union.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
Jillness, I already got to that in my comment 8. "For state representatives who live in a state which sanctions same-sex marriage, fine. However, there is no nation-wide or federal-level recognition of same-sex marriage, so I would give Baldwin a big 'No'." I would like to see a consistent definition nation-wide. However, I also don't like to interfere with the states' rights to self-govern. I really should investigate how many of the existing same-sex marriage states passed laws redefining marriage, and how many were the result of activist judges. I don't think this is a Constitutional issue, though.
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
I don't see how it's narrow-minded nor judgmental. Inflammatory, perhaps, but that's what's fun about it. In this case, it was just a frivolously gay comment. I offer no apologies.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"A "partner" is not a spouse. If anyone thinks that is unfair, the underlying issue of the definition of marriage needs to be addressed" Of course it needs to be addressed, prohibiting 2 legal adults from consentual partnerships that would allow them to protect their own estate is a prohibition that is not supported by the Constitution. Since the legislation regarding marriage varies from state to state, you can't technically say that a "partner is not a spouse". In some states, they are.
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
Jillness, I be glad of your support.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
Thanks, Liberty, I'm usually pretty good at nitpicking language (if I have the time to read closely)! Jillness: A "partner" is not a spouse. If anyone thinks that is unfair, the underlying issue of the definition of marriage needs to be addressed, as I mentioned and cabaker also noted. terry: I'm not easily offended, but IMO the term "breeders" is narrow-minded, judgmental and inflammatory. If someone used a comparable term for a same-sex partner, you can bet they would be flamed in a moment. :(
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
I think the only way to solve issues like this are to establish whether or not we will recognize gay marriage as a nation. And the only way to establish that, in my opinion, its to set it to a vote during a presidential election year.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Thanks Liberty, I think the article words it a bit confusing.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
Ok just to clarify. A member of Congress gets to bring a guest free of charge, if protocol requires it. That guest can be either a spouse, or an adult child. If the member of Congress wants to bring both, he or she must pay for the second guest.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"Breeders"! :ROTFL:
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I think that if others are allowed to bring their spouses, she should be able to bring her partner. Marriage, in relation to the government, is a contract that allows 2 people to combine their estates. The sooner that the government accepts that 2 people of the same sex can create a stable family environment together, the better off we will all be. Thousands of injustices are committed against these couples everday, and it never makes the news. I am straight, but I fully support the BGLAD community.
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
Whatever. She totally deserves to take her wife on the trip. Of course, not taxpayer-funded, but if breeders are allowed I don't see why the privilege should not be extended to queers and lesbians as well.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Sure, and if I read correctly didn't it say that the coffers are reimbursed so in the end there is no cost to the tax payers.
Salernol928 Salernol928 9 years
Just to clarify, the "spouse" is the second guess. Anyone other than the Member of Congress is considered a guest and has to pay their own way and that is only if there is room on the military plane. Not commercial.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
bailaoragaditana: "Congress must be reimbursed for the second guest"--no, that's the *second* guest. The representative is not a "guest". One key piece we're overlooking is the clause " long as there is room, and protocol requires it." I would think the instances where "protocol requires it" would be rare. I think thorswitch has a great and fair approach. However, IMO no unmarried partner should travel with any government official in an official capacity, because they are traveling as representatives of our nation. Really, this boils down to the definition of marriage, which is an entirely separate issue that should be addressed directly. For state representatives who live in a state which sanctions same-sex marriage, fine. However, there is no nation-wide or federal-level recognition of same-sex marriage, so I would give Baldwin a big "No".
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
as long as she's paying for her partner to come along, I can't see why that would hurt.
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