Obama releases statement regarding employment benefits for same sex partners
On June 2, 2010, President Obama released a statement addressing the extension of employee benefits to same sex partners of federal employees. Last year, he issued a Presidential Memorandum stating that the Office of Personnel Management and the Secretary of the State were to extend such benefits as long-term care insurance and expanded sick leave to same sex partners of identified gay and lesbian federal employees. At that time, he also instructed federal agencies to identify other benefits that should be made available to same sex partners. Based on this identification process, in his recent statement, he has instructed all executive agencies to immediately extend more benefits to same sex partners, such as family assistance services, hardship transfers, and relocation expenses. It also requires any new benefits that are made available to federal employees’ be automatically extended to their same sex partners, so long as it is permitted by law.
The President also addressed the shortcomings of his ability to extend the full range of available benefits for federal employees and their opposite sex partners. This ability is limited by Federal law, and, in turn, he urges the legislative branch of the federal government to enact a piece of legislation titled the “Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act,” which proposes to, among other things, give him such authority.
Maryland’s Attorney General, Doug Gansler issued a similar opinion, which stated that State employees’ same sex partners should be eligible to receive health-care and other benefits that are currently made available to opposite sex partners. This legal opinion was codified by Governor O’Malley’s administration, allowing members of same-sex unions who work for the State of Maryland to enroll their partners in their state employee benefits program.