Human Rights Campaign Hails Introduction of Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act

by HRC Staff

Urges Congress to Implement Equal Pay for Equal Work

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender political organization, hails the introduction of the bipartisan Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act introduced by Sens. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore. The act would provide all federal employees with equal pay for equal work by extending family benefits to employees' same-sex partners.

"We urge Congress to provide its gay and lesbian employees equal pay for equal work, which is not only the right thing to do, but good business," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "Leading U.S. companies are instituting equal benefits policies and sending a clear message that corporate America is a place of fairness for all Americans. We thank Senators Joe Lieberman and Gordon Smith for their leadership in this effort."

"This bill is very affordable but more importantly, it is the right thing to do. Many leading employers, including my home state of Connecticut, provide benefits to domestic partners," said Lieberman. "It's time for the federal government to catch up as extending benefits to domestic partners is fair and will help federal agencies compete for the most qualified personnel."

"Federal workers should be able to extend their benefits to loved ones," said Smith. "It's a matter of fairness and I think the government should be leading the way rather than following. I believe we need to rid the workplace of discrimination, not just in hiring decisions, but also in the rights and privileges afforded employees."

As of 2006, more than one half of the Fortune 500 companies provide health benefits for their employees' domestic partners. Moreover, a recent report by HRC found that the America's largest companies are increasingly competing to be the most gay-friendly. Providing gay and lesbian federal employees the same family security as their straight counterparts would bring the federal government in line with America's largest and most successful corporations.

Specifically, the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act would provide benefits to federal employees' same-sex partners on the same basis as spousal benefits. These benefits would include participation in retirement programs, compensation for work injuries and life and health insurance. In addition, the bill would subject federal employees with domestic partners to the same obligations as federally recognized married couples.

"It is time for the federal government to become competitive in the job market, where domestic partner benefits enable top companies to attract and retain the best employees possible," added Solmonese. "Implementing fair and equal policies to all federal workers, including gay and lesbian employees, is a step in that direction."

HRC believes that by offering domestic partnership benefits, the federal government would not only improve the quality of its workforce, but also demonstrate its commitment to fairness and equality for all Americans. Benefits comprise a significant portion of an employee's compensation, and by not offering domestic partnership benefits to all employees, the federal government is not providing equal pay for equal work to these workers.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that GLBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

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