Same-sex partners to get federal benefits


President Barack Obama, under growing criticism for not seeking to end the ban on openly gay men and women in the military, is extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. Obama plans to announce his decision on Wednesday in the Oval Office, a White House official said Tuesday. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the president hadn't yet signed the presidential memorandum.

Several powerful gay fundraisers withdrew their support from a June 25 Democratic National Committee event where Vice President Joe Biden is expected to speak. Their exit came in response to a June 12 Justice Department brief that defended the Defense of Marriage Act, a prime target for gay and lesbian criticism. Justice lawyers argued that the law allowed states to reject marriages performed in other states or countries that defy their own standards.

The legal arguments — including citing incest and sex with minors — sparked rebellion among gay and lesbian activists who had been largely biting their tongues since Obama won election.

The Guardian:
Obama is scheduled to sign an executive order at the White House today. The concession comes amid expressions of disappointment that Obama has not yet tackled the ban on gay people serving openly in the military.

On the campaign trail, Obama also disappointed the gay community by backing only civil unions and not same-sex marriage.

The White House is following the lead of the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who extended benefits to the partners of gay people working in her department.
The state department has promised to give partners of gay and lesbian diplomats many benefits, such as diplomatic passports and language training.

But without a specific change in the federal employees' health benefits programme, Hillary Clinton's promises left out financial benefits such as pensions. Obama's move could make that shift.

Comments (5)

This story posted after the Cutie´story points out the disconnect most find in the Episcopal Church. This person can wed his beloved and have their relationship blessed by the church but not so for same sex parters.

"Less than meets the eye," "Too Little, Too Late," etc. Keep your clichés handy; you'll need them.

Marcos on Daily Kos weighs in:

Obama reacts to angry LGBT community ... with relocation assistance

Kos: I'm sure this will quell rising LGBT anger with the administration:

"Reacting to a rising tide of anger from gay and lesbian supporters at a series of slights and deferred promises, President Obama will tomorrow extend some benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.
"The move, which begins to mirror the policy of many large corporations, will have an immediate effect for many workers, but it is a deeply reactive response to a core Democratic group whose concerns have been festering for six months. The presidential memorandum -- scheduled for signing tomorrow at 5:45 p.m., may in the short term, give Joe Biden something positive to say at a June 25 fundraiser that has seen prominent guests drop out, a host sharply attack the administration, and which is expected to be marked by protests.
"However, the Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the federal government from extending health and retirement benefits to same-sex couples, so the benefits are more likely to be marginal -- like relocation assistance." --Politico blog

Yup. Relocation assistance ought to do it! Wait, you mean it's not?

Pam Spaulding:

"No one is buying a partner benefit plan that doesn't include health insurance, for god's sake. Will he announce an effort to send Congress something to act on? Uh, keep dreaming - his DOJ just wrote up a brief that uses defenses against incest and underage marriage to claim our relationships are unworthy of equal treatment under the law. They can't unring that bell."

Michelangelo Signorile:

"Scrambling to do damage control re: the DOMA brief the Obama administration is throwing us a pathetic bone."

John Aravosis:

"So, because of Obama's inaction on his main presidential campaign promises to our community - DOMA and DADT - we have a scenario in which gays will get fewer benefits than their straight colleagues, and some gay federal employees will get benefits (civilians) while others (military) will not. See how complicated it gets to do anything when you fail to keep your basic promises?"

I guess no one could've ever predicted that relocation assistance wasn't going to be enough to placate those fighting for equal treatment under the law. I admit it, it totally caught me by surprise.Yes, there's a lot on Obama's plate. But apparently, people in his administration have the time to write an insulting and denigrating legal brief in defense of bigoted legislation. As the NY Times said,

"The administration has had its hands full with the financial crisis, health care, Guantánamo Bay and other pressing matters. In times like these, issues like repealing the marriage act can seem like a distraction — or a political liability. But busy calendars and political expediency are no excuse for making one group of Americans wait any longer for equal rights."

But let's remember, gay anger isn't stemming from administration inaction (though that's fueling it). It stems from action -- the submission of this hateful brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act (which, by the way, totally failed to protect Sen. Jon Ensign's marriage). That anger is well justified. The DNC needs to reschedule next week's gay fundraiser until after the administration gets its act together on its plan for gay rights. I'm pretty confident the administration eventually will, but until it does, out of simple common courtesy, it should refrain from treating the gay community like an ATM.

Murdoch Matthew

Yeah, Obama throws some crumbs to the LBGTs... From a FireDogLake blog: "Except those benefits don't include health care..."

Also, you may be interested to know that Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin will be boycotting the DNC fundraiser, in solidarity. He was to be honored for his role earlier this year in supporting and moving along same-sex legislation in Vermont. - Jay Vos

Senator Obama, in his campaign, promised to do away with the whole federal Defense of Marriage Act and claimed moral superiority over Senate Clinton, who was on record as advocating only abolishing the prohibition on federal recognition of legally married same-sex couples. Senator Obama also said he would do away with Don't Ask, Don't tell and allow LGBTs to serve openly in the military.

Since becoming President, Mr. Obama has conveniently forgotten his promises and is acting as if he were in the 1990s, when some of the crumbs he is throwing might have looked better.

As in economic and national security policy, he has lurched to the right on LGBT rights, becoming almost a Bush III.

Gary Paul Gilbert

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