While married heterosexual couples have been allowed to serve in the Peace Corps since it was started in 1961, same-sex couples will now be accepted and given the opportunity to serve together.
"Service in the Peace Corps is a life-defining leadership experience for Americans who want to make a difference around the world," Peace Corps Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. "I am proud that the agency is taking this important step forward to allow same-sex domestic partners to serve overseas together."
Peace Corps volunteers travel overseas to assist in the fields of education, health, community economic development, environment, youth in development and agriculture. Same-sex couple can start applying on June 3, but the agency has announced the criteria for acceptance and how assignments will be handled today. From a statement emailed to Bilerico Project:
The Peace Corps requires formal documentation for all couples who want to serve, and same-sex domestic partners will be required to sign an affidavit before leaving for service that will act as verification of their relationship. The Peace Corps continually works with staff in host countries to identify placements that allow for safe and productive assignments.
Couples who serve together gain a unique perspective of host country customs and culture, but opportunities for couples are limited, as both applicants must apply at the same time and qualify for assignments at the same post. Many factors affect placements, including an applicant's overall competitiveness, program availability, departure dates, and safety and medical accommodations. For any applicant, the number one factor in determining an assignment is the demand from host countries for skilled volunteers.
Bilerico Project Associate Editor Sarah Blazucki's full-time job is with the Peace Corps as an editor for their publications.