Senate committee approves partnership benefits bill

WiG

The U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee early May 16 approved the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which would provide benefits for same-sex domestic partners of federal civilian employees on the same basis as spousal benefits.

The benefits would include participation in applicable retirement programs, life and health insurance benefits and family and medical leave.

Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Republican Susan Collins of Maine introduced the bill, marked as SB 1910 in the record and known as DPBO on the Hill.

“DPBO is about the basic concept of fairness in the workplace,” said Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese. “The federal government would be wise to follow the private sector in offering equal pay for equal work. America’s major corporations have discovered that equality is not only the right thing to do, but good for business. Equal workplace policies, like those DPBO would enact, will help attract and retain the best and brightest talent, which is exactly what our federal workforce needs. We call on the full Senate to pass DPBO.”

According to HRC, 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies in the United States provide domestic partner benefits to their employees.

Many of America’s leading companies, including defense giant Raytheon, IBM, Microsoft, Shell Oil, Walt Disney, Owens Corning, Citigroup, Whirlpool, Time Warner, and United and American Airlines offer the benefits.

In addition, 24 states, the District of Columbia and more than 100 local governments offer domestic partner benefits to public employees.

Lieberman said the partnership bill is “about equality for the gay community, pure and simple.”

Collins, who is not running for re-election in her New England state, said, “This change is both fair policy and good business practice. 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.”

Lieberman has introduced the bill five times. Collins has introduced it three times.

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