They're lying about DOMA too
by John Aravosis (DC) on 6/17/2009 07:01:00 PM
It's just terribly frustrating when the White House insists on putting out misinformation in an effort to defend the president, and thus simply inflames things further. The president today noted that:
Now, under current law, we cannot provide same-sex couples with the full range of benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.
We were told the same thing on the conference call with OPM chief John Berry.
It's not true.
I've talked to several gay lawyers, including Richard Socarides who worked in the White House, and they say that it is patently untrue that DOMA prevents gay federal employees, or anyone else, from getting health benefits. President Obama could have granted full health benefits to domestic partners - not to spouses, not based on civil unions, but to "domestic partners" - and DOMA would not have prevented it, according to the lawyers I've spoken with. Here's why: DOMA prohibits granting benefits based on marriage, it does not prohibit granting benefits overall. Thus, you define a standard that isn't marriage, such as domestic partnerships as defined by, say, the amount of time spent dating, living together, comingling funds, etc. Had Obama simply said we will give health benefits to the domestic partners, straight and gay, of all federal employees, and given a definition of domestic partner that does not include marriage of civil unions, he could have done it.
But he didn't. And now he's not telling us the truth as to why.