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Federal workers closer to DP benefits
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Federal workers closer to DP benefits

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

LGBT employees of the federal government got closer to winning benefits for their same-sex domestic partners on Wednesday, November 18.

The US House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act (HR 2517), and sent it to the full House for action.

Under the legislation, 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.

The domestic partners of federal employees would also be subject to the same responsibilities that apply to the spouses of federal employees, such as anti-nepotism rules and financial disclosure requirements.

The bill's prime sponsor in the House, openly Lesbian Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), was delighted that the measure was on track for passage by the House.

"Today's actions mark another significant step in our march toward LGBT equality," she said. "Our movement is gaining momentum around the country and Congress is following the will of the people. Today is a day to celebrate yet another milestone and recognize anew that 'the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.'"

On the House side, Baldwin was joined as prime sponsor by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.). Ros-Lehtinen represents a Miami Beach district with a large number of LGBT voters, and she often joins Democrats to support pro-LGBT legislation. She is also the senior Republican woman in the House of Representatives.

Washington State Democrats Brian Baird, Jay Inslee, Rick Larsen, Jim McDermott, and Adam Smith are among the co-sponsors in the House.

The US Senate companion bill, S 1102, is prime sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). Both of Washington's Senators, Democrats Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, are co-sponsors on the Senate side.

Pres. Obama expressed strong support for the measure at a White House reception for LGBT activists in June, and he is expected to sign it into law when passed.

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