Bill for Federal Employee Domestic Partner Benefits Introduced

December 20, 2007 ( - Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), Senator Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) and 19 co-sponsors have introduced legislation to extend benefits to domestic partners of federal employees.

A news release on Lieberman’s Web site said that under the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act of 2007, a federal employee’s same-sex domestic partner would be eligible to participate in federal health benefit, Family and Medical Leave Act, long term care, insurance, and retirement benefit programs. Employees and their domestic partners would also be subject to the same obligations that apply to married employees and their spouses, such as anti-nepotism rules and financial disclosure requirements.

The Senators introduced similar legislation in the last session of Congress (See Bill Introduced to Offer Benefits to Same-Sex Partners of Federal Workers ).

Based on the experience of private companies and state and local governments, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that offering benefits for same-sex domestic partners of federal employees would increase the cost of those programs by less than one half of one percent.

The release noted that more than half of Fortune 500 companies and almost 10,000 other companies provide benefits to domestic partners. So do hundreds of state and local governments – including Connecticut and Oregon – and scores of colleges and universities.

“It’s time for the federal government to catch up to the private sector, not just to set an example but so that it can compete for the most qualified employees and ensure that all of our public servants receive fair and equitable treatment,” said Lieberman, in the release. “It makes good economic and policy sense. And it is the right thing to do.”

“The federal government should be leading the way rather than following when it comes to providing benefits,” Smith said in the release. “Rights and benefits must be afforded to all employees equally. This bill corrects the current inequity.”