Thursday, June 03, 2010

Headline: Obama Quietly Expands Same-Sex Benefits

From the AP:
President Obama signed a memo expanding the rights of same-sex federal workers on Wednesday evening. "While this memorandum is an important step on the path to equality, my administration continues to be prevented by existing Federal law from providing same-sex domestic partners with the full range of benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples," he said. Last year, Obama ordered basic rights extended to same-sex couples including visitation and dependent-care rights. At that time, he asked federal agencies to determine what additional benefits he could provide without Congress acting, and the new rights ordered on Wednesday were a result of that review. "They include child-care services and subsidies; more flexibility to use family leave to attend to the needs of domestic partners and their children; relocation benefits; giving domestic partners the same status as 'family members' when federal appointments are made; and access to credit union and other memberships when those are provided to federal workers," the Associated Press summarized. The New York Times called the new package of benefits "modest," but they're certainly a step forward for gay rights. In the memo, Obama regretted that it wasn't within his power to extend full health care benefits, which is the ultimate goal of most gay activists, though he did call on Congress to act. "The limitations of these new benefits however serve as a glaring reminder that the Defense of Marriage Act ultimately stands in the way of providing true equality to LGBT Americans," president of the Human Rights Campaign Joe Solmonese wrote in a statement, according to the Advocate, a gay-news Web site.

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