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Obama Signs Memorandum Extending Same-Sex Partner Benefits for Federal Employees

President Obama signed a presidential memorandum yesterday that extends the benefits available to same-sex partners of federal workers. The memorandum requires immediate action to extend new benefits to partners including family assistance services, hardship transfers, and relocation expenses. To the extent allowed under current law, the memorandum also requires any new benefits conferred to opposite-sex partners to be made available to same-sex partners. In a White House press release, President Obama said, “While this Memorandum is an important step on the path to equality, my Administration continues to be prevented by existing Federal law from providing same-sex domestic partners with the full range of benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.” He called for passage of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which would extend the full range of benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. The current memorandum adds benefits for federal workers’ same-sex partners that expand on benefits conferred by a presidential memorandum President Obama signed in June 2009. Benefits in the first memorandum included leave to tend to sick partners, eligibility for partners in a long-term care program, and including the partners of Foreign Service workers in housing assignments and medical evaluations. The 2009 memorandum has come under criticism, however, for failing to extend full health care coverage to partners. At the time, Obama explained that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prevented him from granting this benefit. During his presidential campaign, President Obama had promised to repeal DOMA.

Sources:

White House Press Release 6/2/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 6/18/10

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