The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday approved legislation that would grant same sex domestic partners of federal employees the same benefits offered to married federal employees. The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2011, S. 1910, was approved on a voice vote.
The legislation had gained a boost in April with the endorsement of 20 new Senate co-sponsors and the endorsement of 35 organizations. The support includes bipartisan chief sponsors Sen. Joseph I. Leiberman (I-Conn.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Main).
The Lieberman/Collins Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act includes accommodations for same-sex domestic partners of federal workers living together in a committed relationship including:
- Health Care benfits
- Retirement benefits
- Family and medical leave
- Long-term care benefits
The bill puts the government onboard with over 50% of employers with 5,000 or more workers, and 24 states that offer benefits to same-sex domestic partners of their employees, per Leiberman’s office.
“S. 1910 is not about same sex marriage,” Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., said. “It is about equal pay and equal benefits for equal work. In fact, many people who oppose the legalization of same sex marriage, including myself, strongly support this equality in employee benefits for domestic partners… Correcting this situation that allows for unequal treatment among federal workers not only fixes a fundamental unfairness in the current system, it will help the federal government recruit and retain talented employees who might otherwise reject federal service because of they can get fairer benefits packages from other private or public sector employers.”
Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Maine, said: “This change is both fair policy and good business practice. The federal government must compete with the private sector when it comes to attracting the most qualified, skilled, and dedicated employees. Today, health, medical, and other benefits are a major component of any competitive employment package. Indeed, private sector employers are increasingly offering these kinds of benefits as standard fare. Among Fortune 500 companies, for example, domestic partner benefits are commonplace. According to the Office of Personnel Management, nearly 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies, including some of our top federal contractors, extend employment benefits to domestic partners.”
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