WASHINGTON – Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman (D-CT) Wednesday joined with Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN), and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) in introducing legislation to provide domestic partnership benefits to gay and lesbian federal employees. The bill, which will be referred to the Governmental Affairs Committee, would extend to domestic partners of federal employees all “benefits available and obligations imposed upon a spouse of an employee.” Domestic partners can be of the same or opposite sex, and they must file with OPM an affidavit saying they meet the criteria of the bill. Benefits would include life insurance, health insurance, retirement pay, and compensation for workplace injuries.
“Senator Dayton’s legislation is an important and overdue expression and extension of two fundamental American values — tolerance and fairness — to gay and lesbian federal employees,” Lieberman said. “When gay men and lesbians who work for the Federal Government choose a life partner, those relationships should be treated with respect. Yet today, the domestic partners of federal employees cannot receive healthcare or qualify for other worker benefits simply because of their sexual orientation. “In America in the 21st Century that’s wrong. It’s time to move past outdated, unjustified double standards of this kind, as many private employers have already done. It’s time to lead with a new vision of a more tolerant nation and take concrete steps toward equality in the workplace. “The Dayton bill will do just that, by protecting the rights of gay and lesbian federal workers who have accepted the responsibilities of domestic partnership. Hundreds of American corporations are already recognizing these same rights by providing the same benefits, and they have found that this leads to a healthier, more productive workforce. I urge the Congress to follow their lead and swiftly adopt this landmark legislation.”