Bill to extend Federal Civil Service benefits to same-sex partners advances

  • Menergy_1

    Posts: 747

    Nov 19, 2009 11:09 PM GMT
    Here's the salient part on this issue, by Joe Davidson of the Washington Post in today's edition:


    Bill to extend benefits to same-sex partners advances
    By Joe Davidson
    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    The effort to expand domestic benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees took another step forward Wednesday when a House committee advanced legislation to do just that.

    After sometimes heated debate, the 23 to 12 vote in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee broke down along party lines, with the victorious Democrats arguing that the measure is a matter of fairness and equality. Republicans opposed it because, among other things, they said it would undermine the concept that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

    "As a matter of simple fairness and equality, this is the right step for the federal government to take at this time," said Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), the committee chairman. "Providing gay and lesbian federal workers with the same family benefits that their married colleagues receive will ensure that the federal government maintains its role as a model employer in the United States."

    Under the legislation, same-sex partners would be able to share the workers' benefits, including those covering health insurance, retirement and disability. The employee would have to sign an affidavit certifying that the relationship meets certain standards in the measure that define domestic partnership.

    Democrats said that the current lack of benefits for same-sex partners conflicts with the principle of equal pay for equal work. With a significant portion of employee compensation coming from the benefit package, employees who can share those benefits with members of their households are effectively more highly compensated than those who cannot.

    Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was succinct in his opposition. "I, for one, stand tall for traditional marriage. I think the American people stand tall for traditional marriage," he said, citing the repeated failures of gay-marriage advocates to pass state referenda on the issue.

    Seemingly unaware that Republicans lost the last election, Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) cited opposition to the legislation from the Office of Personnel Management -- the agency's stance under President George W. Bush.

    In stark contrast to that position, President Obama's OPM director, John Berry, told a House hearing in July that "the White House and the Office of Personnel Management wholeheartedly endorse passage of this bill."

    That same month, Obama issued a presidential memorandum that extended a limited set of benefits to same-sex partners. The directive allows them to be added to long-term-care insurance policies and says employees will be allowed to use their sick leave to care for same-sex partners.

    Much of the discussion centered on a series of defeated Republican amendments. In one of the more heated moments, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.) accused Republicans of "playing on bigotry" during debate on an amendment that would have required those getting benefits to prove they were not illegal immigrants.
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    Nov 20, 2009 2:07 AM GMT
    I sure hope this goes through !!! It will be difficult to get past all the republican stall tactics to hold back progress.