Issue: Federal Advocacy

The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act

H.R. 3135; S. 1529

The Problem

Benefits, such as health insurance and retirement savings, are a significant portion of employee compensation.  While the Supreme Court’s decision striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and guidance from the Office of Personnel Management have made clear that federal workers’ same-sex spouses are now eligible for benefits, there are still federal employees who cannot access marriage and thus continue to be denied critical health, retirement and other benefits for their families.  As a result, these employees do not receive equal pay for their equal contributions, and the government cannot keep pace with leading private-sector employers—including many federal contactors—in recruiting and retaining top talent.

 

What is the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act?

The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (DPBO) would provide the same family benefits to lesbian and gay federal civilian employees with domestic partners as are already provided to employees with spouses.

 

To receive benefits, employees would have to submit an affidavit of eligibility for benefits with the Office of Personnel Management, certifying that the employee and domestic partner meet necessary criteria, as provided in the bill.  In addition, the legislation limits eligibility for domestic partner benefits to those individuals who do not live in a state where marriage is available to same-sex couples.   

 

DPBO is Consistent With Leading Employers’ Policies

DPBO would bring employment practices in the federal government in line with those of America’s largest and most successful corporations.  Sixty-two percent of Fortune 500 companies provide domestic partner benefits to their employees.  In addition, 26 states, the District of Columbia and over 150 local governments make benefits available to public employees and their same-sex partners.
 

In addition, this legislation has been endorsed by numerous organizations including:  the American Federation of Government Employees, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Harvard University, the National Treasury Employees Union and the National Partnership for Women and Families.

 

What is the Current Status of the Bill?

DPBO was reintroduced in the 113th Congress in the House of Representatives by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) and in the Senate by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) on September 19, 2013.


For more information, please contact legislation@hrc.org.

Last Updated: March 10, 2014