Small steps: State Dept finds path around DoMA

by on June 17, 2009  •  In DoMA

GLAD is announcing the "first victory" in its challenge to DoMA: an amendment to the State Department's Foreign Affairs Manual, effective immediately, that lifts the bar on using the "married name" of a same-sex spouse on that person's passport. The passport name issue is one of the claims, now presumably moot, in Gill v. OPM. The new policy is stated in a letter from DoJ to the GLAD lawyers. 

The workaround DoMA comes from a pre-existing State Department regulation that provides that "a name change will be recognized for purposes of issuing a passport if the name change occurs [by] [o]peration of state law." 72 Fed. Reg. 64,930 (Nov. 19, 2007).   It should not have taken a federal lawsuit to achieve this, but it did, it's done, and GLAD can rightly claim credit.

Funny how this change also came about yesterday, together with the news that a memorandum on DP benefits shall cometh forth tonight from the White House. And maybe even that overdue Executive Order adding gender identity to the existing order barring discrimination against federal employees?  All happening just as the lgbt protests over the Smelt brief gained traction, moving from the blogosphere to the media, picking up support from high-dollar homo's (credit for that great phrase to Craig Hoffman) who were threatening to pull big dollars.

Message to the White House: the lgbt community is not oblivious to the massive number of issues on the President's plate. Pacing change is sensible, so long as the pace shows some speed in a reasonable time and so long as the change is meaningful. But the careless, tin-ear missteps are starting to mount: Rick Warren, cutting Gene Robinson out of the HBO broadcast of the inaugural concert, the casual tone of statements that DADT is backburnered for the indefinite future, the Smelt brief… Who's in charge over there?


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