Federal Domestic Partner Benefits

Government Executive’s cover story this month is the often neglected debate on federal domestic partner benefits. Though the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act has been introduced every session since 1997 it’s never been voted on by either the House or Senate, and only got its first hearing last fall. External gay rights groups have had other priorities, so it’s encouraging to see some emerging support from the federal unions and the courts. But in an era when over 8,000 companies (and over half of Fortune 500 companies) offer these benefits it’s long overdue. Many federal employees don’t even realize that benefits they take for granted, such as being able to add your spouse to your health plan or pension survivor benefits, are not available to their GLBT colleagues. With a new administration supportive of GLBT rights I hope Congress finally dusts off this legislation, but I’m not holding my breath.

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