05.21.2009 9:28am EDT
(Washington) Legislation has been introduced in the the House and Senate to provide benefits for same-sex domestic partners of federal civilian employees on the same basis as spousal benefits.
The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act is sponsored by Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) in the House and Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) in the Senate.
The benefits would include participation in applicable retirement programs, life and health insurance benefits, and family and medical leave.
“This legislation would allow the federal government to keep pace with other top employers,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.
“It is not only a matter of equal pay for equal work, but also the best way to ensure that the government has access to the top talent on the same basis as the nation’s leading corporations.”
Currently, 57 percent of Fortune 500 companies provide domestic partner benefits to their employees.
Many of America’s leading companies, including defense giant Raytheon, IBM, Microsoft, Shell Oil, Walt Disney, Fannie Mae, Citigroup, Xerox, Time Warner and United and American Airlines offer the benefits.
In addition, 16 states and over 200 local governments offer their public employees domestic partnership benefits.
Meanwhile, at a House committee markup on the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Chairman Howard Berman reiterated Secretary of State Clinton’s commitment to provide equal benefits to the same-sex partners of US diplomats stationed overseas.
The benefits would include medical care, transport between postings and security training to partners.