President Obama Extends Additional Benefits to Same-Sex Partners of Federal Employees

Last year, you may recall, President Obama extended some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, including -- for partners of foreign service members – health care abroad, eligibility for employment at posts, cost-of-living adjustments abroad and medical evacuation; and – for civil service employees -- long-term care insurance and expanded sick leave for civil service employees.

But, as Yunji de Nies reported at the time “many gay and lesbians are upset about what is not included: health care, retirement and survivor benefits. The actual benefits are widely viewed as small potatoes…. The White House says the president cannot extend health care and other benefits because of legal challenges under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which the president has said he wants to repeal.”

Today President Obama signed a presidential memorandum extending more benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees: family assistance services, hardship transfers, relocation expenses. In addition the memorandum requires federal departments and agencies to extend to same sex partners any new benefits to employees’ opposite-sex spouses “to the extent permitted by law.”

The president said in a statement that he “continues to be prevented by existing Federal law from providing same-sex domestic partners with the full range of benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. That is why, today, I renew my call for swift passage of an important piece of legislation pending in both Houses of Congress—the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act” which “would extend to the same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees the full range of benefits currently enjoyed by Federal employees’ opposite-sex spouses.”

-Jake Tapper

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