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Aimity Financial arrow News Room arrow Obama to Extend Benefits to Same-Sex Partners
Obama to Extend Benefits to Same-Sex Partners PDF

President Barack Obama today will approve an expansion of federal benefits to cover the same-sex partners of U.S. government employees.

 The presidential memorandum Obama will sign this afternoon will allow domestic partners of civil service employees to be added to the long-term care insurance program and allow employees to use sick leave to take care of domestic partners and adopted children, according to an administration statement.

Domestic partners of foreign service employees will be allowed to use medical facilities at posts abroad and will be included in family size for housing allocation, the statement said.

Obama pledged during his presidential campaign to support equal rights for gays and lesbians. As a Democratic senator from Illinois, he supported legislation expanding health benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. He supports civil unions for gays, but not same-sex marriages.

“Today’s announcement is an important step forward,” Winnie Stachelberg, of the Center for American Progress, a Democrat-leaning policy group, said in a statement. “But it is only a first step.”

Changes in Law

Representative Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who is openly gay, said Obama went “as far as he can” with the memorandum.

“This is the maximum he is allowed to do under the law, and we have to change the law,” he said after attending an event on financial regulations at the White House.

Obama has come under criticism from gay and lesbian groups for not pushing to repeal the prohibition on openly homosexual men and women serving in the U.S. military. Still, he has highlighted his appointment of gays in his administration, including John Berry as director of the Office of Personnel Management.

Obama’s memorandum will direct Berry and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to implement the new domestic-partner benefits and requests the heads of other agencies to examine whether other benefits can be expanded.

The personnel office also will be asked to issue new guidance to executive departments within 90 days on implementation of civil-service laws that make it illegal to discriminate against federal employees on factors not related to job performance.


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