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DP benefits bill for fed’l workers reintroduced

Baldwin, Pocan take lead on Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act

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Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin, United States Senate, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade
Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin, United States Senate, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) is set to reintroduce the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act on Thursday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key).

Lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate introduced on Thursday a bill that would ensure gay federal workers would have access to employee benefits for their same-sex partners even if they’re not legally married.

The Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act was introduced in the House by gay Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and in the Senate by lesbian Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).

Under the bill, a federal employee could gain access to health and pension benefits for a same-sex partner if the employee submitted an affidavit to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management certifying the relationship.

The Obama administration has determined that gay federal employees in legal same-sex marriages are eligible for these benefits in the wake of the Supreme Court decision against Section 3 of DOMA. Moreover, OPM determined gay federal employees would be eligible for these benefits even if they reside in non-marriage equality states.

Still, that implementation of the ruling didn’t cover couples living in civil unions or domestic partnerships, or those unable to travel to gain access to a same-sex marriage. It only applies to federal employees working in states where marriage equality isn’t currently recognized.

In a statement, Pocan said the legislation would ensure the federal government will “continue to lead” in providing equal rights and benefits for civil servants.

“Passage of our bipartisan legislation will remove discriminatory practices that punish certain federal employees merely for whom they love and where they live,” Pocan said. “As the private sector has shown, policies that promote equality are not only the right thing to do, they also allow you to compete for the best and brightest employees.”

Among the current 53 co-sponsors in the House are Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Ileana Ros-Lentinen (R-Fla.) and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.). In the Senate, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joins Baldwin in introducing the bill.

Ros-Lehtinen said the legislation would the bring the federal government into alignment with other LGBT success in the past year.

“It has been a banner year for equality for all Americans but the Federal government still has much work to do,” she said. “This is why my colleagues and I will present this bipartisan bill to ensure that employees in same sex domestic partnerships have the same rights and protections as heterosexual couples.”

One LGBT advocate, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Baldwin wanted to reintroduce the legislation in the wake of the Supreme Court decision against DOMA to ensure gay federal employees have partner benefits even if they live in non-marriage equality states.

“Sen. Baldwin felt strongly that until all same-sex couples have the opportunity to live in marriage states, a variety of relationship recognition opportunities should be made available so that the greatest number of federal employees could access important benefits,” the advocate said.

Allison Herwitt, legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, said the legislation is “about the basic concept of fairness in the workplace.”

“Corporate America has led the charge in offering equal pay for equal work, and the U.S. Supreme Court sent a message this summer that the Federal government should follow their lead,” Herwitt said. “Equal workplace policies, like those DPBO would enact, will help attract and retain the best and brightest talent, which is exactly what our federal workforce needs.”

Pocan sits on the House Committee on Oversight & Reform and Baldwin sits on the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee – which both had jurisdiction on the legislation in previous years.

Both lawmakers also represent Wisconsin in Congress. That state has limited domestic partnerships, but not same-sex marriage.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, said the president is reviewing the current version of the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act.

“The President has supported previous versions of the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act, and he continues to support providing benefits to same-sex domestic partners of all federal employees who are unable to marry under state law,” Inouye said. “While we have not yet reviewed the version introduced today, we look forward to working with Congress to achieve this important goal to promote the equal treatment of all federal employees.”

UPDATE: This posting has been updated in the wake of news statements from Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and the Human Rights Campaign providing more information.

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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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