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October 14, 2010

Category: Benefits

Pet Insurance Offering to Federal Employees Highlights Absurdity of Partner Benefit Denial

HRC's Joe Solmonese: "Current law puts federal workers' parrots ahead of their partners"

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today called on Congress to put the real lives of people first and offer domestic partner benefits to federal employees. Earlier this week, government employees participating in Federal Employee Health Benefits were notified by a provider that they are eligible to buy into insurance policies for their pets. These same employees are denied the opportunity to cover their same-sex domestic partners.

"Current law puts federal workers' parrots ahead of their partners," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "It is time for Congress to act to put people first and extend health care benefits equally to all of their employees."

Benefits, such as health insurance and retirement savings, are a significant portion of employee compensation. Although the federal government - the nation's largest civilian employer - offers attractive family benefits to employees with different-sex spouses, it does not offer the same benefits to lesbian and gay workers with partners. 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. In fact, 57% of Fortune 500 companies offer domestic partner benefits to their employees. HRC is not aware of any statistics regarding pet insurance offerings by the Fortune 500.

The President has instructed federal agencies to "conduct a thorough review of the benefits they provide and to identify any that could be extended to LGBT employees and their partners and families" and some limited benefits have been extended. But because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Congress must pass the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act to extend critical health care benefits. The President has called on Congress to pass DPBO (S.1102 and H.R.2517) which has been passed in House and Senate committees but awaits floor action.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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