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Politics The marriage rule that held women back at the State Department

13:45  28 september  2020
13:45  28 september  2020 Source:   thehill.com

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United States : In 2002, Sultaana Freeman filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against Florida when the state 's Department of Highway Safety suspended her license when she refused to be re-photographed without her veil. Her legal license was suspended without change in policy or law

Under this rule , a marriage is valid for immigration purposes in cases where the marriage is valid In June 2013, the Supreme Court held that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which The domicile state ’s laws and policies on same-sex marriages will not affect whether USCIS will

When a family friend gave Phyllis Oakley a sample of the State Department's foreign service examination, she doubted she could pass. A few years later, she scored high enough to become a member of America's diplomatic corps, prepared for a life on the front lines of the nation's missions abroad.

a man wearing a costume: The marriage rule that held women back at the State Department © iStockphoto/The Hill illustration The marriage rule that held women back at the State Department

But within a year of joining the State Department, she resigned.

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State constitutional amendments are typically approved first by the legislature or special constitutional convention and then by the voters in a Traditionally, courts have held that a state is free to decline to recognize a marriage celebrated elsewhere if the marriage violates the state 's strong public policy.

In the United States , the availability of legally-recognized same-sex marriage expanded from one state in 2004 to all fifty states in 2015 through various state and federal court rulings, state legislation

Oakley had met her husband Robert, also a Foreign Service officer, and per State Department guidelines, a married woman was forced to resign.

"It was just simply accepted. If a woman married, she resigned. I never asked to see the regulation, I never fought it; nice girls in the 1950s didn't do that," Oakley said in an interview with The Hill.

"When I say this to young women they look at me like, 'That must have been in the Middle Ages, and you're still alive.' It was in the '50s and early '60s, and that really isn't so long ago."

The State Department regulation that forced Oakley into an early retirement had been established in the early 1920s, in the wake of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote. The amendment sparked a cultural revolution that brought women into typically male-dominated fields.

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With millions of Americans unable to find employment, working wives became scapegoats.

In a Hindu marriage , where a Hindu marriage is performed according to religious rites, performance of homa and saptapadi are essential and where they are not proved to have been parformed it cannot be called a solemnised marriage under the section.

The State Department was not an early adopter of women's liberation into its professional workforce - women generally served as secretarial clerks, not diplomatic officers. Women who wanted to enter the foreign service had to be dogged in their pursuit of an opportunity.

Very few were successful. Only a handful began to enter the State Department in the early years of suffrage, largely because it was so difficult to secure a place to take the Foreign Service entrance examination, and then pass the test.

Lucile Atcherson, who in 1922 became the first woman to pass the exam, had to get private tutoring because she was barred from the all-male preparatory classes, wrote Homer L. Calkin in his 1978 book "Women in the Department of State: Their role in American foreign affairs."

"The director was horrified when she asked to enter the class," Calkin wrote. "It would 'destroy the morale of the young men.' "

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Any marriage in which the selection of the spouse is outside the control of the bride and groom. the cultural rule that a man must work for his bride's family for a variable length of time either before or after the marriage . Marriage of a man to two or more women at the same time; a form of polygamy.

Muslim women who are left powerless to claim money or property from their husbands after the breakdown of an Islamic marriage have been “given hope” But the High Court found that the couple later managed to obtain a marriage certificate that enabled them to live and work in Dubai, and “ state

Meanwhile in London, the U.S. consul general at the time, Robert P. Skinner, was also confused as how to handle a persistent young woman looking to take the entrance exam.

Skinner thought she was entirely capable, Calkin wrote, but worried that if she got married she would compromise America's standing abroad, believing it inconceivable that a woman would be out in the world with a husband at home.

"He questioned if her position in a foreign community as the head of a U.S. Government office would not 'bring the whole arrangement into ridicule, destroy her usefulness and render the position of her husband intolerable,' " Calkin wrote. "As one solution, he suggested that rules be adopted before women were permitted to take the examinations which would automatically terminate appointments upon a woman's marriage. That rule was to prevail for 50 years."

Atcherson lasted five years at the State Department before resigning, in 1927, to get married.

The first senior female diplomats were politically appointed, and their marriages were not entirely prohibited.

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The Marriage and Divorce Statistics Division data show that around 33% of all Australian marriages are anticipated to end in divorce. For Indian women , divorce may not be the best option because they would be considered as opposing the rules and tradition of the Indian society.

Marriage is available in England and Wales to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples and is legally recognised in the forms of both civil and religious marriage . Marriage laws have historically evolved separately from marriage laws in other jurisdictions in the United Kingdom.

Ruth Bryan Owen, a Democratic congresswoman and who was married twice before, became the first woman appointed to lead a diplomatic mission, heading to Denmark in 1933. She resigned in 1936 because she married a foreign national, a Danish military captain.

In 1949, the politically active and married Helen Eugenie Moore Anderson became the first politically appointed ambassador, also leading the embassy in Denmark.

Yet for Frances E. Willis, the first female career foreign service officer to reach the rank of ambassador when she took over the U.S. Embassy in Switzerland, her breakthrough was only possible because she never married.

"She was an interesting and hard-working and intelligent woman," James C. H. Bonbright, a colleague of Willis in the foreign service and a two-time ambassador, said in a 1986 interview with the Library of Congress.

"There had been women in the Service before her, but most of them had married or gotten out for one reason or another. I think the Department rather hoped that this would happen to Frances."

Phyllis Oakley remembers hearing about Frances Willis when she joined the State Department, which held her up as an example of the heights women could achieve.

And 16 years after she left the agency, another cultural revolution that brought women's rights to the forefront allowed Oakley to return to the State Department, when Foggy Bottom rescinded the marriage rule in the early 1970s.

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"What changed in that time was the United States," she said. "All of a sudden we got the Vietnam war, hippies, women's liberation, the pill, protests - and so, in the early '70s things were entirely different."

Oakley became the first woman to hold a staff position in executive leadership and the first female spokesperson for the State Department, under then-Secretary of State George Shultz.

She has lived all over the world and been involved in many major diplomatic events in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and South Asia. "Great fun," she calls it.

Oakley, now in her 80s, says women have come a long way in making themselves an indispensable part of the State Department - including as three secretaries of State, Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.

She credits young people for pushing the culture change at the agency that allowed for her to come back and succeed. She's keenly aware of the power of cultural revolutions and is watching today's movement calling out anti-Black and minority racism as an opportunity for the State Department to do more to increase diversity in its ranks.

"It was mainly, I feel, through the young officers who felt that the department had to change or it couldn't survive."

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