Federal domestic partnership benefits bill introduced

Timothy Kincaid

November 18th, 2011

Cong. Ros-Lehiten with Susan Shelly

About a week ago I had the opportunity to meet Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). She was in Los Angeles for an evening and made time to speak to Log Cabin Republicans about her ongoing support for civil equality in our nation’s capital, and a friend invited me to be his guest.

At that time she told the assembled crowd that she would be co-sponsoring a bill with Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to recognize the domestic partners of federal employees and offer benefits equivalent to those offered to spouses. Today that bill was introduced.

“I am pleased to co-sponsor this legislation because we are a nation that prides itself on treating everyone as equals and this bill assures that we bring those same ideals to the regulations that guide federal benefits for domestic partners of federal employees,” said Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen. “We have taken steps to gain equal rights for all but much remains to be done. Passage of this legislation will be one step in the right direction. I am pleased that the Senate has also introduced a similar bill,” she said.

The companion Senate bill is co-sponsored Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT).

(Susan Shelly, pictured with the Congresswoman, is running for Congress as a Republican in the 30th Congressional district as a social liberal and fiscal conservative.)

Lucrece

November 18th, 2011

It makes me so happy that I can cast my vote for her. She’s the politician any other politician of any party should look up to.

Her articles on El Nuevo Herald (Spanish version of Miami Herald) are always a delight to read, especially those addressing the failure of a body we know as the UN.

customartist

November 19th, 2011

Understanding that there are Straight Domestic Partners, but not addressing those, I fail to understand just how this does not defy DOMA?

Isn’t this Federal Recognition of “something like Marriage”?

Will this chip away one small piece of DOMA?

Ben M

November 19th, 2011

@customartist – Since both are simply matters of statute, I believe the norm is to is that the newer statute abrogates a prior statutes where they are inconsistent. On the other hand, a court seems more likely to find that domestic partnerships are, in the view of the “conflicting laws,” so unlike a marriage that DOMA and domestic partnership laws do not conflict.

It is an implicit statement that a domestic partnership and marriage are not that same that had allowed some States with constitutional provisions against marriage equality to pass domestic partnership laws.

Michael S

November 19th, 2011

As a Federal Employee, this is welcome news. I’m curious about its chances of passing. Does it even have a shot, or is it just to make a point — again? I know previous efforts have failed. Where can I keep watch on this bill, and how can I get involved (without violating my agency’s code of conduct, of course)?

Nick Literski

November 21st, 2011

This same bill has been introduced multiple years. Last year, it made it through committees for both the House and Senate, but never came to the floor. Lieberman (who is touted here as a cosponsor) promised in the Senate committee not to bring it to the floor without a full explanation of how the cost would be offset by other spending cuts, etc. The GAO showed that the cost would be mostly set off by the newly-paying healthcare premiums, but since that wasn’t a “complete” cost coverage, nothing further was done.

I’m a federal employee who truly needs this legislation due to my partner having a chronic illness. Unfortunately, the current political climate is to CUT benefits to federal employees (or as some in Congress are proposing, actually slash salaries). I don’t see this bill making it through the House committee this time, given the current conditions.

LaoBlue

February 4th, 2012

Interestingly, some large federal government agencies (Department of State and DHS) already provide a number of benefits to partners – and their children – while posted overseas (housing and post allowances, health services, etc.). However, when an employee returns to the US to continue employment within the agency – nada. That is not fair – in fact, it’s a bit perplexing how an agency provides and then takes away just because an employee moves back to the US. A case in point that shows the need for a law that forces agencies to provide equally to all families in all circumstances!

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