Federal Eye: Senate Again Considers Bill Granting Same-Sex Benefits to Gay Partners of Federal Employees

Remember when President Obama said he wanted to make working for the federal government cool again? The government’s chief human resources officer told lawmakers Thursday that they need to approve a bill that extends full benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of gay or lesbian federal employees in order to ensure the government’s coolness factor.

“Young people are looking at this as an indicator that says, do you have this, and if not, this is not a cool place to be,” Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry said at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“This really has become a litmus test for this generation. I know because I’ve been out talking to college students at our recruitment and job fairs,” Berry said, noting that the Obama administration “wholeheartedly” endorses the bill reintroduced earlier this year by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).

More than 34,000 federal employees live in committed same-sex partnerships and more than 30,000 of them have partners who are not federal employees, according to estimates in a 2007 UCLA study. If approved, the bill would cost taxpayers $56 million next year, Berry said.

The price tag equals roughly two-tenths of a percent of the entire cost to the government’s federal employee health insurance, Berry said. His agency’s estimate includes $19 million in savings for retirees that would elect to receive benefits for their domestic partners and thus pay smaller annuity payments.

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Scott Bryan

I liked it up to the very next paragraph:

That is a sum well worth the benefit that will accrue in recruiting and retaining the best people to serve as federal employees,” the panel’s chairman Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) said.

I can’t think of anything less relevant to that decision than the cost. I also wondered if it includes heterosexual couples that just don’t happen to be married. If not, then isn’t it discriminatory?