A former US ambassador left his post at the State Department after criticising Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s treatment of gay people.

Michael E Guest retired from the State Department after more than 26 years as a form of protest against regulations that he considered as unfair to same-sex partners of foreign service officers.

The 50-year-old, who is openly gay, served as a US ambassador to Romania when Bush took office.

He was the first out gay person to be confirmed by the Senate to an ambassadorial post.

Since his return home in 2004, he has appealed directly to the US Secretary of State Rice to end gay discrimination.

“For the past three years, I’ve urged the Secretary and her senior management team to redress policies that discriminate against gay and lesbian employees,” he said yesterday, during his farewell speech in Washington.

He complained that nothing had ever resulted from his requests, and he had felt compelled to choose between his obligations to his partner and the service to his country.

“That anyone should have to make that choice is a stain on the Secretary’s leadership, and a shame for this institution and our country” he said.

During his speech, he also explained why he thought he was not only raising “a gay rights issue.”

“It’s about the safety and effectiveness of our communities abroad, of the people who represent America.

“It’s about equal treatment of all employees, all of whom have the same service requirements, the same contractual requirements,” he said.

According to Guest, under the current regulations only a US State Department’s spouse can claim several rights which are denied to unmarried partners and same-sex partners.

These include issues such as the lack of training for same-sex partners to recognise terrorist threats, the lack of medical care and the need to pay for one’s own transportation when one’s partner is on duty.

Guest said that these issue could have been solved simply with Ms Rice’s signature, but his pleas had never received any attention.

Yesterday PinkNews.co.uk reported yesterdy the blogosphere in America has been discussing a tabloid’s attempts to “out” the US Secretary of State.

The tabloid National Enquirer newspaper has chosen to speculate on her sexuality.

In an article entitled “Who’s Gay and Who’s Not” the paper reports that it is “an open secret” that Ms Rice is a lesbian.