Congress reintroduces the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund hails the reintroduction of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act in the U.S. Congress. This legislation would provide domestic partner benefits for federal employees and their partners. The bipartisan measure was reintroduced by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Richard Hanna (R-NY).

The benefits that would be provided include federal retirement, life insurance, health, workers’ compensation, and Family and Medical Leave benefits. By not offering domestic partnership benefits to its employees, the federal government is not providing equal pay for the equal work of these employees. The legislation would also require domestic partners to have the same obligations under federal law.

“Currently, the majority of Fortune 500 companies, 18 states and at least 150 local governments offer their employees domestic partner benefits,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund. “It is time for the federal government, the country’s largest civilian employer, to follow suit and provide federal employees in same-sex domestic partnerships with these vital benefits. For their leadership on this issue, we extend our heartfelt thanks to Senators Baldwin and Collins in the Senate and Representatives Pocan, Connolly, Ros-Lehtinen and Hanna in the House.”

These protections and benefits would apply to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees who share a common residence together, are the sole domestic partner of the employee, and who share a “significant measure of each other’s common welfare and financial obligations.”

“The Task Force believes that even in states where marriage equality is a reality, companies and state governments should still provide benefits to domestic partners. Company policies that exist nationwide would, of course, also benefit domestic partners who do not have the freedom to marry in their state. These families need to be recognized under the law and this bill would guarantee them the critical protections they deserve,” said Carey.