Bill Would Extend Other Benefits to Fed Employees' Same-sex Partners

July 31, 2009 ( - A House subcommittee has passed a bill that would extend health care and other benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees. reports that Representative Stephen Lynch (D-Massachusetts), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Federal Workforce Subcommittee, said the bill’s movement is a “significant first step toward placing the federal government on par with the private sector, where health insurance, retirement, disability and other benefits are already widely available to domestic partners.”

At the recommendation of Office of Personnel Management officials, the subcommittee passed technical amendments ensuring that retirees are covered and clarifying the benefits included. The news report said the subcommittee approved language stating that the legislation covers all of the employment benefits made available to the spouses of heterosexual federal employees under Title V of the U.S. Code, the law governing federal pay and benefits.

Five subcommittee Democrats voted to send the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act to the full committee, while three Republicans voted against it. The Republicans said they might be more receptive to the bill if it included heterosexual couples.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said during an interview after the markup that he’d “like to express optimism” that such an amendment could be added to the Senate version of the bill, and that as the bill stands, it “attempts to create a new class for benefits” and he thinks “they’re trying to redefine marriage, under a different name,” according to

In June, President Obama used an executive memorandum to extend long-term care benefits and family and parental leave to the same-sex partners of federal employees, but said he could not allow them access to other benefits — including enrollment in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program — without legislative changes (see Obama Orders Some Benefits Extended to Federal Worker Same-sex Partners ).