|(Washington, DC) – Log Cabin Republicans are pleased to support legislation led by two great allies Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), that would provide domestic partner benefits to Federal employees.
“As the largest employer in the nation, the United States government should lead the way in attracting and retaining the best and brightest for public service,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. “Right now the Federal government lags behind 22 states, the District of Columbia, and a majority of Fortune 500 companies when it comes to providing competitive personnel policies. This commonsense legislation would provide greater access to benefits for employees, and would do so without adding to the Federal debt.”
In the Senate, Log Cabin Republicans ally, and Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Ranking Member, Senator Collins introduced the legislation with Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT). In doing so, she 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. Indeed, private sector employers are increasingly offering these kinds of benefits as standard fare. Among Fortune 500 companies, for example, domestic partner 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.”
In the House, longtime Log Cabin Republicans champion, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen introduced the legislation with Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), saying “I am pleased to co-sponsor this legislation because we are a nation that prides itself on treating everyone as equals and this bill assures that we bring those same ideals to the regulations that guide federal benefits for domestic partners of federal employees. We have taken steps to gain equal rights for all but much remains to be done. Passage of this legislation will be one step in the right direction. I am pleased that the Senate has also introduced a similar bill.”
Under the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2011, same-sex domestic partners of federal employees living together in a committed relationship would be eligible for health benefits, long-term care, Family and Medical Leave, and federal retirement benefits, among others. Federal employees and their domestic partners would also be subject to the same responsibilities that apply to married federal employees and their spouses, such as anti-nepotism rules and financial disclosure requirements.
According to a 2009 UCLA Williams Institute report, over 30,000 federal workers live in committed relationships with same-sex domestic partners who are not federal employees.
Lieberman and Collins, along with Ros-Lehtinen and Baldwin have introduced the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act in the past two Congresses.
Almost 60 percent of all Fortune 500 companies, one out of three employers – and 50 percent of employers with 5,000 or more workers – provide benefits to domestic partners of their employees. Twenty states and several hundred local jurisdictions extend benefits to their employees with same-sex domestic partners.
Based on the experience of private companies and state and local governments, the Congressional Budget Office estimated last year that the total cost of benefits would average about $70 million per year through 2020. Considered as a share of the federal government’s total budget for federal employees, this estimated cost would amount to only about two hundredths of a percent (0.0002).