While the Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Windsor represented a landmark victory for equality and federal recognition of same sex marriages, discriminatory federal practices remain that leave employees in same-sex domestic partnerships without the rights and protections their heterosexual colleagues receive. In order to allow the federal government to compete for the best employees and ensure all of our nation's civil servants have their loving relationships treated with respect and dignity, U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) today introduced the bipartisan Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (DPBO). The legislation would grant federal employees in same sex domestic partnerships the same rights, protections and obligations afforded to heterosexual married couples.
U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) today introduced the companion bill in the Senate.
"In a year of milestones for the equality movement, the federal government must continue to lead and ensure equal rights and benefits for all its civil servants," said Pocan, a co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. "Passage of our bipartisan legislation will remove discriminatory practices that punish certain federal employees merely for whom they love and where they live. As the private sector has shown, policies that promote equality are not only the right thing to do, they also allow you to compete for the best and brightest employees."
"It has been a banner year for equality for all Americans but the Federal government still has much work to do. This is why my colleagues and I will present this bipartisan bill to ensure that employees in same sex domestic partnerships have the same rights and protections as heterosexual couples," said Ros-Lehtinen, original co-founder and member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. "The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (DPBO) would achieve this and I'm honored to be an original co-sponsor of this common sense bill."
"Our bipartisan legislation will strengthen our Nation's civil service by ensuring LGBT Federal employees are treated with fairness and respect, and agencies are empowered to effectively recruit and retain a talented workforce," said Connolly. "I often hear that the Federal Government should be run more like a business. Well, from Boeing to GE, America's leading companies have spoken loud and clear in recognizing that no organization can remain competitive in terms of attracting and retaining great talent while discriminating against same-sex couples."
According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), almost 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies and 19 State governments offer same-sex domestic partner benefits. The DPBO would empower federal agencies to compete with the private sector and state governments for the best and brightest employees.
Under the bill, federal employees would need to file an affidavit asserting they are in a same-sex domestic partnership and are not married. The bill only applies to federal employees working in states where marriage equality is not currently recognized. Among the rights, benefits and obligations that would be extended to same-sex domestic partnerships include retirement benefits, health and life insurance, and death benefits.