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Benefits for Same-Sex Partners

In June 2009, President Obama initiated his plan to extend benefits to same-sex domestic partners. Under Presidential Memorandum, 74 FR 29393, the president directed all federal agencies to work with OPM to identify which benefits could be extended to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees.

In a memorandum dated June 2, 2010, President Obama directed agencies to extend a host of benefits to their same-sex domestic partners as permitted by law. This includes non-Title 5 agencies like the FAA.

The types of benefits could include:

  • health insurance premium reimbursement program;
  • dental insurance (including for retirees);
  • vision insurance;
  • dependent life insurance;
  • relocation assistance and expense program;
  • employment opportunities for spouse/same-sex domestic partner upon permanent transfer of employee;
  • business travel accident insurance;
  • receipt of transferred annual leave to provide care to same-sex domestic partner with medical emergency;
  • reimbursement of up to $250 (less taxes) for eligible expenses of employee and same-sex domestic partner, including for fitness center memberships, physical exams, and homeowners insurance; and
  • expressions of sympathy policy recognizing hospitalization, illness, or death of family member, including a same-sex domestic partner, with a floral arrangement, fruit basket, or donation to charity up to $80.

In addition, the president has imposed an ongoing obligation for all agencies to make sure that any new benefits they make available to their employees’ spouse (or spouse’s children) also be made available to employees’ same-sex domestic partners (or their children). Agencies should keep this direction in mind when reviewing agency regulations, policies, collective bargaining agreements, and other potential sources of new employee benefits.