New State Department diplomatic visa policy takes effect

By : Michael K. Lavers of the Washington Blade, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A new State Department policy that requires partners of foreign mission personnel and employees of international organizations to be married in order to qualify for a diplomatic visa took effect on Oct. 1.

A State Department letter the Washington Blade obtained last month states, “consistent with internal Department of State policy changes, partners accompanying officers and employees of international organizations or seeking to join the same must be married in order to be eligible for a derivative G-4 nonimmigrant visa or to seek a change into such status beginning October 1, 2018.” The letter also says the State Department “will only accept the accreditation of spouses of newly arrived officers and employees of international organizations, both same-sex and opposite-sex, as members of the family of the respective international organization.”

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Pentagon ends ban on transgender troops in military

By : Wire Report
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Transgender people will be allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military, the Pentagon announced Thursday, ending one of the last bans on service in the armed forces.

Saying it’s the right thing to do, Defense Secretary Ash Carter laid out a yearlong implementation plan declaring that “Americans who want to serve and can meet our standards should be afforded the opportunity to compete to do so.”

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Panasonic forges ahead with recognition of same-sex marriage and possible benefits

By : Wire Report
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Tokyo (AP) – Panasonic Corp. said it will recognize same-sex marriages in its employment policies in a rare move for a major Japanese manufacturer.

Although details are being worked out, some of the benefits currently allocated to married employees include maternity leave, health insurance and a small cash bonus, said spokeswoman Chieko Gyobu. Panasonic said the new policy will come into effect in April.

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Salt Lake City’s first openly gay mayor sworn in

By : Wire Report
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Salt Lake City (AP) – Jackie Biskupski was sworn in Dec. 4 as Salt Lake City’s first openly gay mayor, a landmark the former state lawmaker acknowledged shortly after taking the oath of office.

Biskupski, 49, said the historic moment should not be taken lightly, and noted great strides have been made for LGBT people in the state.

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Alaska tribal organization gives the go-ahead for gay marriages

By : Wire Report
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Sitka, Alaska (AP) – The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska has given the go-ahead to its courts to allow the performance of same-sex marriages.

CoastAlaska News reports the largest tribal organization in southeast Alaska announced its new policy on Feb. 23 following a unanimous vote last week by the council’s seven-member governing board to define legal marriage without a gender requirement.

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