Gay Federal Workers Get More Benefits
More news from the White House today on LGBT rights. This time, Obama’s following up on the memo he signed last summer giving the same-sex partners of federal workers additional benefits. After making his announcement, he asked federal agencies to figure out the full extent of benefits he could offer without Congress doing anything like, you know, repealing discriminatory legislation. Yesterday’s announcement from the Office of Personnel Management revealed the findings. 365 Gay summarizes the following new benefits:
“They include child-care services and subsidies; more flexibility to use family leave to attend to the needs of domestic partners and their children; relocation benefits; giving domestic partners the same status as “family members” when federal appointments are made; and access to credit union and other memberships when those are provided to federal workers.”
Health benefits still aren’t included, but this is obviously a positive development. Obama used the memo as a chance to stump for the Domestic Partnerships Benefits and Obligations Act, which is currently pending in both the House and Senate and would give the full set of benefits to federal employees’ partners, regardless of sex.
He also included a little jab at Congress, saying, “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.”
This little announcement follows the White House’s backing of a compromise on repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Which is great. But there’s still room for more, and as many gay rights advocates have pointed out, the DADT compromise doesn’t do much to actually end the firings of LGBT soldiers anytime soon. It really only goes halfway.
So bravo Obama for these new benefits. But instead of trying to distract LGBT folks with little victories — which really, are nice — let’s play ball. Push Congress, follow through, make it happen.
Paul Richards is a staff writer for Campus Progress. He attends the University of Pennsylvania.