At least 33 members of Congress, lead by South Florida Republican and gay rights ally Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, have delivered a letter to United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice pressing for LGBT benefits for employees at the United Nations.
The August 6 letter is a follow-up to President Barack Obama's June 17th memorandum to grant limited federal benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's earlier decision to do the same with partners of diplomatic employees. The letter (PDF) reads in part: "We are both heartened and inspired by President Obama's strong commitment to LGBT equality and decision top issue this Presidential Memorandum. ...We wholeheartedly agree with Secretary of State Clinton when she said of policy changes at the Department of State: 'It's the right thing to do.'"
Current internal United Nations policy on same-sex partner benefits defers to the Permanent Mission of the country of origin. Reportedly the UN has forwarded at least one request to Ambassador Rice to grant benefits to the same-sex partner of an employee.
The letter was signed 33 members of Congress. The signatories include openly gay Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA), Jared Polis (D-CO) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Henry Waxman (D-CA) aand Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and the entire South Florida delegation Ros-Lehtinen (R), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D), Robert Wexler(D) and Alcee Hastings (D). Hastings is pressing the Obama Administration to end investigations of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" violations and says he was pressured to withdrawal an amendment that would have de-funded the Pentagon's DADT investigations.