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Domestic Partners Benefits For Federal Employees Proposed

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Bipartisan members of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week introduced legislation to give the domestic partners of federal employees the same benefits --- and require of them the same obligations --- as the spouses of federal employees.

"This bill would bring equality to the domestic partners of federal employees," Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn. said. "It will also help the government attract, recruit, and retain the best and the brightest, at a time when a large percentage of federal employees are preparing to retire and the government will be required to hire a new generation of public servants. We need to be able to compete with the private sector on equal footing for new talent, and this legislation will help us achieve that goal."

Details of the Legislation

Under the legislation, same-sex domestic partners of federal employees living together in a committed relationship would be eligible for health benefits, long-term care, family and medical leave, and federal retirement benefits, among others. The domestic partners of federal employees would also be subject to the same responsibilities that apply to the spouses of federal employees, such as anti-nepotism rules and financial disclosure requirements.

The Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009, as it's called, is identical to legislation introduced last Congress by Senator Lieberman, former Senator Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and 20 other co-sponsors in the Senate, along with members of the House.

Recent Lawsuits

With four states now recognizing same-sex marriages, an increasing number of lawsuits have sprung up filed by federal employees -- including several gay widowers and gay couples wed in Massachusetts -- challenging the law that keeps them from getting federal marital benefits. See the report here from the Wall Street Journal

According to UCLA's Williams Institute, over 30,000 federal workers live in committed relationships with same-sex domestic partners who are not federal employees.

More than half of all Fortune 500 companies and over 10,000 other private sector companies provide benefits to domestic partners. Among them are General Electric, IBM, Eastman Kodak, Dow Chemical, the Chubb Corporation, Lockheed Martin, and Duke Energy. In addition, the governments of 13 states, 145 local jurisdictions, and over 300 colleges and universities provide such benefits.

Based on the experience of private companies and state and local governments, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that benefits to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees would increase the cost of those programs by less than 1/2 of one percent. The Office of Personnel Management says the cost of health benefits for domestic partners over 10 years would be $670 million.

Posted with permission from: MyFederalRetirement.com



Domestic Partners Benefits For Federal Employees Proposed
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