POTUS: Toward Achieving Equality on Federal Benefits

On June 17, President Obama released a statement on the Presidential Memorandum and Non-Discrimination, and support of the Lieberman-Baldwin Benefits Legislation.

In 2007, Michael Guest, the first openly gay Ambassador confirmed by the United States Senate, resigned from the Foreign Service. He loved his career, but he had to leave it in the end — because he believed that the country he served was failing to implement the principles of equality it espoused abroad. His partner was ineligible for training provided to Ambassadorial spouses; he bore the costs of his partner’s transportation to his placements abroad; and his partner did not receive the overseas benefits and allowances given to spouses of Ambassadors.

It is too late to prevent Ambassador Guest from having to make the choice he made, but today I am proud to issue a Presidential Memorandum that will go a long way toward achieving equality for many of the hard-working, dedicated, and patriotic LGBT Americans serving in our Federal Government — Americans like Ambassador Guest. In consultation with Secretary Clinton, who in her role as Secretary of State oversees our foreign service employees, and Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, who oversees human resource management for our civil service employees, my Administration has identified a number of areas in which greater equality can be achieved under existing law by extending to the same-sex partners of Federal employees many of the same benefits already available to the spouses of heterosexual Federal employees. I am therefore requesting the Secretary of State and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management to extend the benefits they have identified to the same-sex partners of Federal employees where doing so can be achieved consistent with Federal law. I am also requesting the heads of all other executive departments and agencies to conduct a review of the benefits they administer to determine which may legally be extended to same-sex partners.

But this Presidential Memorandum is just a start. Unfortunately, my Administration is not authorized by existing Federal law to provide same-sex couples with the full range of benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. That’s why I stand by my long-standing commitment to work with Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. It’s discriminatory, it interferes with States’ rights, and it’s time we overturned it.

Continue reading President Obama’s statement here.

Read the Presidential Memorandum on Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination here.

Read Digger’s post (Life After Jerusalem) on this here.

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There was one post where local embassy employees were allowed to receive flu shots from the Health Unit, but partners of same sex couples were not. One of these partners happened to be taking care of their minor dependents. So that was real flu prevention. I also remember talking to one DG a few years back about this only to be told it was “DOMA’s” fault. DOMA my foot! DOMA apparently is interested on “defending and nurturing the institution of traditional, heterosexual marriage.” But about 50 percent of marriages end up in divorce in the United States; who’s worried about that?

Earlier this year, the Ninth Circuit Court decided that DOMA is unconstitutional when applied to exclude same-sex married couples from federal employee benefits.

As I was writing this today, my elementary grade son who is now home for summer vacation was interested on what I was writing. I gave him a quick explanation and used the example of two friends who are in a same-sex marriage. He thought for a moment then wondered out loud, “Who thought of these rules? They are both human beings.”

Related Item:
Fact Sheet Presidential Memorandum on Federal Benefits and Non Discrimination