WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation that would provide full health benefits to to domestic partners of gay and lesbian federal employees took a significant step toward passage Thursday when the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Post Office, and the District of Columbia voted 3-2 along party lines in support of the measure.
In June, President Obama extended some federal health benefits to same sex partners of federal employees, but said at the time that changes to the law were needed for all benefits such as health care and retirement benefits.
HR 2517, the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009, is intended to fill the void by providing access to health care coverage, retirement and disability plans, and life and long-term care insurance.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said she was “delighted” by the subcommittee’s move and that the bill should be passed to ensure the federal government’s competitive edge.
In opposing the bill, committee Republicans said it discriminates against the domestic partners of non-married heterosexual federal employees, and introduced amendments that would have removed references to “same sex” partners.
Next stop for the bill is the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which must approve the bill before it is considered by the full House.