WASHINGTON – The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday approved legislation that would entitle federal employees in same sex domestic partnerships to the same benefits now available to married federal employees.

The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2011, S. 1910, was approved on a voice vote.

 “S. 1910 is not about same sex marriage,” Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., said. “It is about equal pay and equal benefits for equal work. In fact, many people who oppose the legalization of same sex marriage, including myself, strongly support this equality in employee benefits for domestic partners… Correcting this situation that allows for unequal treatment among federal workers not only fixes a fundamental unfairness in the current system, it will help the federal government recruit and retain talented employees who might otherwise reject federal service because of they can get fairer benefits packages from other private or public sector employers.”

Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Maine, said: “This change is both fair policy and good businesspractice. The federal government must compete with the private sector when it comes to attracting the most qualified, skilled, and dedicated employees.  Today, health, medical, and other benefits are a major component of any competitive employment package.  Indeed, private sector employers are increasingly offering these kinds of benefits as standard fare.  Among Fortune 500 companies, for example, domesticpartner benefits are commonplace.  According to the Office of Personnel Management, nearly 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies, including some of our top federal contractors, extend employment benefits to domestic partners.”

Lieberman has introduced the domestic partners legislation in the past four Congresses. Collins joined him in the 111th and 112th Congresses. Almost 10,000 private-sector companies of all sizes provide benefits to domestic partners, and that includes 60 percent of all Fortune 500 companies. Twenty-four state governments – including Connecticut and Maine– about 154 local jurisdictions, and 300 colleges and universities do, as well.

Domestic partnership holding handsThe Committee also approved by voice vote:

  • The nomination of Joseph Jordan to be Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, Office of Management and Budget.
  • U.S. Fire Administration Reauthorization Act of 2012, S. 2218
  • Keeping Politics Out of Federal Contracting Act of 2011, S. 1100
  • U.S. Secret Service Retirement Act of 2011, S. 1515
  • A series of postal naming bills:

H.R. 2415 – names a postal facility in Pittston, Pennsylvania the “Trooper Joshua D. Miller Post Office Building.”  H.R. 2415 was introduced by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA-11) and cosponsored by the Pennsylvania delegation.   Trooper Miller, a member of the Pennsylvania State Police was killed in the line of duty on June 7, 2009 while attempting to apprehend a kidnapping suspect.

  H.R. 3220 – names a postal facility in Pine City, Minnesota the “Master Sergeant Daniel L. Fedder Post Office.” H.R. 3220 was introduced by Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN-8) and is cosponsored by the Minnesota delegation.  Sergeant. Fedder was killed on August 27, 2010 in Helmand province, Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device.

  H.R. 3413 – names a postal facility in Bronx, New York the “Private Isaac T. Cortes Post Office.”  H.R. 3413 was introduced by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY-7) and is cosponsored by the New York delegation.  Private Cortes was killed on November 27, 2007 in Amerli, Iraq of wounds sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.



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