In a move to promote equality and compete with corporate America for smart and talented workers, the Obama administration will begin providing benefits and allowances to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees.
“Millions of hard-working, dedicated, and patriotic public servants are employed by the federal government as part of the civilian workforce, and many of these devoted Americans have same-sex domestic partners,” President Obama said in a statement this week.
And giving same-sex domestic partners the benefits currently available to married people of the opposite sex will “help the [State] Department attract and retain personnel in a competitive environment where domestic partner benefits and allowances are increasingly the norm for world-class employers,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a statement.
Thorough reviews have yet to be conducted to identify all the benefits that will be extended to same-sex domestic partners, but here’s what’s expected to change:
- Domestic partners of civil service employees can be added to long-term care insurance programs.
- Employees may be able to use their sick leave to take care of domestic partners and non-biological, non-adopted children.
- Same-sex partners of Foreign Service members who are officially identified as domestic partners will get diplomatic passports.
- Partners will be included when calculating payments for a place to live and other allowances for Foreign Service members.
- Partners of Foreign Service members will be able to visit medical facilities at posts abroad and will be included in medical evacuations from posts abroad.
- The government will pay for emergency travel by domestic partners to visit seriously ill or injured employees and relatives.
- Children of same-sex partners of Foreign Service members will also get benefits.
- Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender employees in the workplace may be banned.
“We clearly have not been heard, and seen, as what we also are: human beings whose lives, loves, and families are equal to yours,” wrote HRC President Joe Solmonese to President Obama in a recent letter.
“This first step … is a welcome and long-overdue movement towards bringing the government’s policies in line with the overwhelming majority of America’s businesses,” Solmonese said following the President’s decision.
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