Federal Employees’ Same-Sex Domestic Partners Gain New Benefits
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 3, 2010 President Barack Obama has extended new benefits to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees, including those within the Defense Department.
Obama issued a presidential memorandum yesterday that directs federal agencies to move immediately to make changes needed to extend to same-sex partners the same benefits afforded opposite-sex spouses, wherever permitted by law.
Federal agencies must report their findings to the Office of Personnel Management within 90 days.
These benefits would include access to day care for children of employees’ domestic partners, travel and relocation allowances and access to employee assistance programs. Additional benefits could include gym and credit union memberships, access to career and other counseling and assistance services and government medical facilities and lodging allowances, according to implementing guidance the Office of Personnel Management issued to federal agencies.
The new policy does not extend health insurance benefits under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program or retirement benefits to same-sex partners. That would require legislative changes, such as those being proposed in the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which Obama supports.
Obama stipulated in signing the memorandum that as federal agencies extend new benefits, they provide same-sex partners the same coverage provided to opposite-sex spouses, to the extent the law permits.
“This is another major step forward for gay and lesbian federal employees,” said OPM Director John Berry. “But it’s also a good business practice. This will help us retain valuable employees and better compete with other employers for top talent.”
More information about the policy changes is available on the OPM Web site.