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Obama extends limited partner benefits to federal workers

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President Obama issued a memorandum on Wednesday clarifying that federal agencies are now required to offer certain benefits to federal workers with same-sex partners.

In the memo, Obama says for “far too long” federal employees with domestic partners have been denied equal access to “basic rights and benefits their colleagues enjoy.”

“This kind of systemic inequality undermines the health, well-being, and security not just of our federal workforce, but also of their families and communities,” she said.

As a result of the memo, new benefits required by the federal government include making children of federal workers with same-sex partners eligible for federal child-care subsidies and child-care services.

Additionally, same-sex partners and their children now qualify as “family members” for the purposes of employee assistance programs.

The new memo builds off an earlier memo Obama issued in June direecting federal agencies to determine whether the Defense of Marriage Act prohibited the federal government from offering these benefits.

In the new memo, Obama says the U.S. Office of Personnel Management provided him a report recommending that all these benefits can and should be extended.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement the new memorandum is “certainly a positive step” in providing equal rights to LGBT couples.

“The limitations of these new benefits however serve as a glaring reminder that the Defense of Marriage Act ultimately stands in the way of providing true equality to LGBT Americans,” he said.

In another statement, OPM Director John Berry, the highest ranking openly gay person in the Obama administration, praised Obama for going forward with these benefits.

“This is another major step forward for gay and lesbian federal employees,” Berry said. “But it’s also a good business practice — this will help us retain valuable employees and better compete with other employers for top talent.”

The OPM statement says the agency has issued guidance to all the federal agencies to implement the president’s memo.

But even with the new directive, most of the major of benefits afforded to the spouses of straight workers — health and pension benefits — cannot be extended to same-sex couples under current law.

Passage of the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act, which is pending for floor consideration in Congress, would rectify this situation.

In the new memo, Obama apparently recognizes the need for this bill and says “legislative action is necessary to provide full equality to LGBT federal employees.”

Solmonese commended Obama’s recommendation for further legislation to offer major benefits to federal workers in same-sex relationships.

“We welcome the President’s renewed call to pass the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act and call on Congress to pass it swiftly,” Solmonese said. “When a majority of the Fortune 500 offer equal benefits, it should be a no-brainer that the federal government catch up.”

According to a recent report from the Williams Institute, an estimated 34,000 federal workers were in open relationships with same-sex partners in 2007. The new changes specified by Obama could assist these federal workers.

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1 Comment

  1. Tim

    June 5, 2010 at 2:38 am

    Its about time Obama got back around to the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act. The little tid bits he can offer the LGBT community don’t really amount to much, and true enough full benefits won’t come for partners of gay & lesbian Federal workers until Congress passes the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act. The LGBT community really needs to push Congress on this, because the bill has already passed out of committee in the House & Senate and is waiting for a floor vote in both houses. So whats the hold-up? The GOP is against it, (No surprise there) but why isn’t the Democratic leadership in Congress bringing the bill up for a vote???

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Politics

Anti-LGBTQ Daily Wire host says 2 men shouldn’t be allowed to adopt babies

” […] because babies need mothers. They also need fathers, which is why two women shouldn’t be allowed either.”

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Screenshot of Matt Walsh via YouTube (Blade file photo)

NASHVILLE – Anti-LGBTQ Daily Wire podcast and YouTuber Matt Walsh joined the growing chorus of far-right and conservative voices outraged that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg went on paternity leave from his job in August after he and his husband Chasten had adopted two children.

On his show Monday Walsh not only criticized Buttigieg, but he attacked same-sex couples adopting children altogether.

It’s absurd for any public employee, paid on taxpayer dime, to be given that much time off. Now, you can make an argument for women on maternity leave but not for men. Paternity leave is a nice luxury for private companies that can afford it. The U.S. government is not a private company – it’s a public institution, deeply in debt, failing in just about every way and everywhere. So this is not a time and not the place for those kinds of luxuries. But that’s the somewhat safer point to make, right? You are in a much more hazardous place, you are in more hazardous waters when you go away from that and, instead, you start saying mildly critical things about paternity leave in general as a concept.”

I also didn’t say that there’s nothing at all for a man to do for his family after a child is born. I said that as far as caring for the newborn himself, most of that is going to be done by the mother. She, in most cases, will be feeding the child. The child also needs and wants his mother’s presence, his mother’s touch, her voice. The father should be interacting with the baby also, obviously, but the infant is far more focused on his mother at that age. And needs his mother more. There is no mother in the Buttigieg household, but that doesn’t change the point here.”

Babies need their mothers, which is why two men shouldn’t be allowed to adopt babies in the first place. And the outrage mob can now start a secondary campaign over that comment. But I’ll say it again. Two men should not be allowed to adopt babies because babies need mothers. They also need fathers, which is why two women shouldn’t be allowed either.

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Politics

Pete Buttigieg calls out Tucker Carlson over attack

Fox News host mocked transportation secretary over paternity leave

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (Washington Blade file photo)

Appearing remotely on MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace’s politics program Friday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called out Fox News host Tucker Carlson for the attack on his parental leave.

“This attack is coming from a guy who has yet to explain his apparent approval for the assassination of Harvey Milk, ” Buttigieg said.

During his Thursday evening program Carlson said, “Pete Buttigieg has been on leave from his job since August after adopting a child—paternity leave, they call it—trying to figure out how to breastfeed. No word on how that went. But now he’s back in office as the transportation secretary and he’s deeply amused, he says, to see that dozens of container ships can’t get into this country.”

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National

Biden recognizes National Coming Out Day as time to honor LGBTQ people

White House statement denounces ‘bullying and harassment’

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President Biden recognized Oct. 11 as National Coming Out Day in a statement on Monday calling the occasion a time to celebrate the “courage of LGBTQ+ people who live their lives with pride, create community with open arms and hearts, and showcase the strength of being your authentic self.”

Biden ticked off in the statement the achievements on LGBTQ policy, including signing an executive order on his first day in his office ordering federal agencies to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year against anti-LGBTQ discrimination to the furthest extent possible.

“Despite the extraordinary progress our nation has made, our work to ensure the full promise of equality is not yet done. Anti-LGBTQ+ bills still proliferate in state legislatures,” Biden said. “Bullying and harassment — particularly of young transgender Americans and LGBTQ+ people of color — still abounds, diminishing our national character. We must continue to stand together against these acts of hate, and stand up to protect the rights, opportunities, physical safety, and mental health of LGBTQ+ people everywhere.”

Read Biden’s full statement below:

Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on National Coming Out Day

Today, we celebrate National Coming Out Day and the courage of LGBTQ+ people who live their lives with pride, create community with open arms and hearts, and showcase the strength of being your authentic self. Today and every day, I want every member of the LGBTQ+ community to know that you are loved and accepted just the way you are – regardless of whether or not you’ve come out.

My Administration is committed to ensuring that LGBTQ+ people can live openly, proudly, and freely in every corner of our nation. I am proud to lead an Administration with LGBTQ+ officials serving openly at the highest levels of government — and prouder that together we have made historic progress advancing protections and equal opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community. From acting on Day One to prevent and combat discrimination, to enabling all qualified Americans – including transgender Americans – to serve their country in uniform, to defending the human rights of LGBTQ+ people around the world, my Administration has been clear that we will continue to champion the dignity, equality, and wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Despite the extraordinary progress our nation has made, our work to ensure the full promise of equality is not yet done. Anti-LGBTQ+ bills still proliferate in state legislatures. Bullying and harassment — particularly of young transgender Americans and LGBTQ+ people of color — still abounds, diminishing our national character. We must continue to stand together against these acts of hate, and stand up to protect the rights, opportunities, physical safety, and mental health of LGBTQ+ people everywhere. From defeating discriminatory bills to passing the Equality Act, we have more work to do to ensure that every American can live free of fear, harassment, and discrimination because of who they are or whom they love.

To LGBTQ+ people across the country, and especially those who are contemplating coming out: know that you are loved for who you are, you are admired for your courage, and you will have a community — and a nation — to welcome you. My Administration will always have your back, and we will continue fighting for the full measure of equality, dignity, and respect you deserve.

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