Same-sex couples could soon access federal benefits
If same-sex couples are allowed to marry in certain states, why can’t they receive the same benefits from their employers as other married individuals? Newly proposed legislation would provide extra employee rights for same-sex couples in which at least one partner is employed by the federal government. These provisions, sponsored by two female senators, would bring the federal government up to speed with the nation’s top employers. Interestingly, the two women who proposed the measure, Tammy Baldwin and Susan Collins, are from different political parties.
Baldwin is the nation’s first openly gay senator. Although she commends many states for their continuing commitment to same-sex relationships, she says she worries that same-sex couples employed by the government are not receiving the benefits they need. As an increasing number of top companies throughout the nation expand their benefits offerings to those same-sex couples, state and federal government entities must also stop the denial of benefits to couples who need them. In fact, a shocking 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies offer benefits packages to same-sex couples. In 2000, only one in four offered this same service.
The new provisions, which have not yet passed through Congress, would provide same-sex domestic partners with access to the exact same services now received by straight couples. Advocates for the measure say the changes would allow the federal government to ensure equal employee rights for everyone who is employed at that level. In addition, promoting equality in major governmental structures might even cause other businesses to reconsider their policies. Same-sex domestic partners would have access to the benefits, even if they are not considered officially married in their state of residence.
Many Florida couples stand to benefit from this proposed measure. All workers’ spouses deserve equal access to employment-related benefits, no matter their sexual orientation status.
www.advocate.com, “Sens. Baldwin, Collins introduce bipartisan bill to provide fairness to domestic partners” Michael Regula, Sep. 19, 2013