On Nov.17 the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform announced the approval of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009 which will make employment benefits available to the same-sex domestic partners of federal employees.
The legislation will also make certain benefits, including healthcare, available to same-sex domestic partners of former employees and annuitants.
"I am delighted with the committee’s action," said Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), author of the bill. "Equality and diversity in the workplace [will] boost productivity and help…keep the most qualified employees."
The act declares that for an employee to be eligible, they must first certify in an affidavit that their relationship satisfies the criteria set out in the legislation for establishing a domestic partnership.
"We must begin to implement workplace benefits that allow us to be as attractive, if not more attractive, than the private sector," said committee chairman Ed Towns.
Meanwhile, some Republican committee members argued that the legislation grants an improper extension of benefits to a small fraction of federal employees at a time when unemployment is rising, according to GovernmentExecutive.com.
The bill will now move to the House floor for debate. Companion legislation has been introduced by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).
Earlier this year, the committee passed legislation to provide four weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees who are fostering or adopting a child.