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House Panel Advances Domestic Partners Act for Federal Employees

The Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act, authored by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) advanced yesterday in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Washington Post reports:

Baldwin "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...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."

Said Baldwin: “Today’s actions mark another significant step in our march toward LGBT equality. Our movement is gaining momentum around the country and Congress is following the will of the people.  Today is a day to celebrate yet another milestone and recognize anew that ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’”

U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry also lauded the bill's passage: “I want to commend the Committee for approving the Domestic Partnership Benefits Act. This is an essential recruitment tool as we seek the best and the brightest to tackle the many challenges America faces. This is a positive step that helps the federal government to better compete with other employers for top talent.  President Obama has stated clearly that this is an issue of equality.  But just as important, youth today, LGBT or not, see this benefit as a litmus test for determining high quality employers. The Administration looks forward to continuing its work with lawmakers as the House and the Senate move toward enactment of this bill.”

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Comments

  1. Yay, Tammy! So proud to have you as my rep!

    Posted by: TJ | Nov 19, 2009 8:20:39 AM


  2. Would these bills even get out of committee under a Republican Administration?

    Posted by: BMF | Nov 19, 2009 8:54:43 AM


  3. I miss the days when Reps. and Dems. would debate about real issues.. Now it seems the republicans are some right wing fringe sect hell bent on trashing the President and ANYTHING he tries to do. Something as basic as domestic partner coverage shouldn't even be an issue...Rep. Baldwin is a brave woman to stand up to the bullies! more power to her and Thanks

    Posted by: John Normile | Nov 19, 2009 9:40:04 AM


  4. unfortunately, the benefits, like health insurance, are taxed at the federal level (and in 45 states, state-taxed) as "imputed income" (the cost of providing the benefit), leaving many couples unable to afford the benefits...

    Posted by: rick | Nov 19, 2009 10:18:49 AM


  5. Whoo hoo! I'm a federal employee and I can't wait to be on an equal footing with my peers. All I want is to provide for and take care of my husband and this law would give us one more tool to that end. And we're lucky; he has his own health insurance; I always think of the unfortunate people who don't despite their spouse working for the government.

    Posted by: Paul | Nov 19, 2009 10:25:04 AM


  6. Unfortunately, this might never get a hearing in the Senate. The House Democrats are generally more pro-gay than their peers in the Senate.

    Remember the non-gender identity version of ENDA passed the House all the way back in 2007. And that was when Pelosi only had a 233-202 majority.

    In contrast, the Senate hasn't even held a committee vote on the issue.

    Posted by: John | Nov 19, 2009 10:37:05 AM


  7. While this is nice for those who are Federal employees, it is unfortunate that it enshrines "separate but equal" in Federal law. And, of course, it does not recognize the marriages of those whose states allow marriage. It does not seem to me to be a significant positive move - more a minor step that, as an unfortunate side effect, institutionalizes prejudice.

    Posted by: Kayeton Kurowski | Nov 19, 2009 10:37:25 AM


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