Progress Continues on Extension of Benefits to Same-Sex Partners of Federal Employees


Over the course of the past several years, the Obama Administration and Office of Personnel Management have been working toward the goal of benefit equality for same-sex partners of federal employees.

In a recent Washington Post piece, columnist Joe Davidson details some of the many measures being taken today to help level the playing field for all federal employees and their loved ones. He specifically lists five proposed regulations which are expected to be finalized by the end of 2012:

  • Allowing childcare subsidies for the children of same-sex couples;
    Offering evacuation pay to cover partners located overseas in case of an emergency;
  • Treating domestic partners as an insurable interest in retirement, opening the door to a potential survivor annuity;
  • Making partners eligible for non-competitive federal jobs when a staffer returns from an overseas assignment; and
  • Opening access to agencies’ employee assistance programs, which often include free short-term counseling and referral for various issues affecting employees, such as substance abuse, stress, grief, family problems and psychological disorders.

NFFE has long been a vocal proponent of equal rights for same-sex partners of federal employees. Though these proposed regulations are a great start, there is yet more that can be done, provided Congress gets on board. The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2011 (H.R 3485 and S. 1910) would completely level the playing field for same-sex couples, extending health and pension benefits to all federal families, regardless of composition.

“The key issue at stake here is fundamental fairness in the workplace,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. “There is no reason why one group of federal workers should receive a benefit that others cannot, especially when the distinction is drawn by sexual orientation. A family is a family regardless of its members, and the time has come for the government to fully recognize that principle. We applaud the efforts made by this Administration to advance this cause, and urge Congress to follow swiftly in its path.”