Obama Backs Health Benefits for Same-Sex Partners of Federal Employees
March 16, 2009 - 11:52 AMThe recently passed $676-billion omnibus spending bill includes language urging the federal government's Office of Personnel Management to "consider" federal health benefits for same-sex domestic partners of federal employees.
On Friday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about that recommendation, something the Obama administration supports, he indicated.
Gibbs said President Obama’s position on benefits for same-sex couples “remains the same” as it was during the campaign. “The president would work with Congress in order to…institute what he promised he’d do in the campaign,” Gibbs said at the Friday press briefing.
During the presidential campaign, Obama said that while he does not support same-sex marriage, he does support repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman in federal law.
In an Aug. 1, 2008 letter to a Boston-based homosexual advocacy group, the Family Equality Council, Obama specifically pledged to use the presidency to overturn DOMA – and pledged his support for homosexual “families” and efforts to totally redefine marriage.
Under DOMA, the federal government may provide health benefits only to opposite-sex partners of married employees.
In December 2007, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced a bill that would have provided a federal employee and his or her domestic partner with the same benefits available to a married federal employee and his or her spouse. Barack Obama, a U.S. senator at the time, was a co-sponsor of Lieberman’s bill, which died without coming to a vote.
Lieberman and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) reportedly plan to introduce similar bills in the current Congress.
Under Lieberman’s 2007 legislation, same-sex domestic partners of federal employees would have been eligible to participate in health benefits, long-term care, Family and Medical Leave, and federal retirement benefits.
Federal employees and their domestic partners also would have been subject to the same responsibilities that apply to married employees and their spouses, such as anti-nepotism rules and financial disclosure requirements.
The Office of Personnel Management has estimated that the cost of health benefits for domestic partners of federal employees would be $670 million over ten years.
Earlier this month, President Obama named John Berry as his choice for OPM director. According to the Web site GayPolitics.com, Berry “would be the first openly gay director of OPM and one of the highest-ranking openly gay presidential appointees in history.”