The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act

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-seven percent of Fortune 500 companies provide domestic partner benefits to their employees.  In addition, 22 states plus the District of Columbia offer benefits to domestic partners and to married same-sex couples where those marriages are recognized, five states offer benefits only to legally married same-sex couples, and over 170 local governments make benefits available to public employees and their same-sex partners.  These include cities in every part of the country, from Los Angeles to New York City, to Madison, Wisconsin and Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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?

This legislation is yet to be introduced in the 114th Congress.

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Last Updated: March 09, 2015