Bill Introduced to Offer Benefits to Same-Sex Partners of Federal Workers

September 29, 2006 ( - Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut) and Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) have introduced a bill that will extend federal benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. reports that S. 3955 would allow domestic partners to benefit from federal retirement, life insurance, health insurance, workers’ compensation, long-term care insurance and dental and vision benefits.

“Federal workers should be able to extend their benefits to loved ones,” Smith said in the news report. “It’s a matter of fairness, and I think the government should be leading the way rather than following. I believe we need to rid the workplace of discrimination, not just in hiring decisions, but also in the rights and privileges afforded employees.”

Legislation was previously introduced in 2003 to allow benefits for domestic partners, but failed to gain Republican co-sponsors and died in committee. The new bill, though, has not only been signed by Smith, but also Lincoln Chafee (R- Rhode Island).

A letter by Lieberman and Smith seeking co-sponsors, sent in August, said the Congressional Budget Office has estimated it will cost less than one-half of one percent of the current cost of the benefits to extend them. The senators argued that extending the benefits would aid in recruiting qualified employees.

Thirteen additional co-sponsors have signed on to the bill.