The Senate’s hearing for the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act was introduced with support Thursday. If the bill passes, it would extend benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. There was very little opposition after the bill was introduced.
“Senator Collins and I introduced this bill because we believe it is the fair and right thing to do, and also because we think it makes sense — practical sense — for the federal government as an employer, particularly as we approach a generational change in the federal work force that will see the retirement of approximately one third of all federal employees,” lead sponsor of the bill Sen. Joseph Lieberman told Advocate.com.
Other supporters with statements of the bill included Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is the chief co-sponsor of the bill, and Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii.
The only two oppositions against the bill are the costs of the benefits and employees fraudulently claiming a partner. However, William Hendrix,chair of Dow Chemical Co.’s LGBT affinity group, said fraud at the federal level is a criminal penalty. He also said the total cost of the added benefits is very little, and the program within the OPM would save the government enough money in the short term to make the program’s benefits deficit-neutral.
Other supporters of the bill were Rep. Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin who introduced the bill and John Berry, the highest-ranking LGBT Obama official.
“The total cost of the entire implementation of this program equates to about two tenths of 1% of the entire cost of our federal health insurance program,” Berry said.
The bill is set to be discussed further in November or December and introduced in the Senate next year.
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— Kim Brown