New Benefits for Children of LGBT Federal Workers Proposed
July 19, 2012 by Brian Moulton, Legal Director
Tomorrow, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will publish a proposed rule that extends health benefits to many children being raised by LGBT federal employees.
This regulation makes clear that children of a federal worker’s same-sex domestic partner qualify for health, dental, and vision insurance provided under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) and the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP). This change will ensure that more LGBT federal employees will have equal access to health benefits for their families. Access to adoption for same-sex parents is far from universally accessible—in fact in only eighteen states and the District of Columbia is second-parent adoption available statewide. In the absence of fair adoption laws, thousands of same-sex parents across the country remain legal strangers to the children they have raised from birth. By issuing this proposed rule, OPM will ensure that fewer children of federal workers will be denied health care coverage simply because their parents are a same-sex couple.
HRC urged OPM to take this important step as part of its Blueprint for Positive Change, a series of recommendations to the Obama administration for regulatory and policy changes that would improve the lives of LGBT Americans, without the need for Congress to act. President Obama and OPM, under the leadership of Director John Berry, have taken significant steps to extend employee benefits to LGBT federal workers and their families. Among these are sick and bereavement leave, long-term care insurance, relocation assistance, child care subsidies and access to certain retirement annuities. The proposed rule, upon publication, will be open for public comment for 60 days. HRC will submit comments and continue to follow the regulatory process to ensure that the strongest possible final regulation emerges.
However, fully equal benefits for the same-sex partners and spouses of federal employees, including health insurance and retirement benefits, cannot be extended without action by Congress. HRC continues to push for the passage of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which would ensure that LGBT federal workers and their families receive all the workplace benefits that they have earned. In May, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee unanimously passed the legislation and we continue to push the full Senate to take up the bill.
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