January 04, 2008

CARDIN CO-SPONSORS BILL TO PROVIDE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES WITH DOMESTIC PARTNER BENEFITS

Federal Government Catches Up with Major Private Sector Companies

WASHINGTON - Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, D-MD, has added his name to a growing list of co-sponsors to the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligation Act of 2007 , which was introduced today by Senator Joseph Lieberman, I-CT, and Senator Gordon Smith, R-OR.  Passage of this legislation will relieve state and local governments from incurring expenses associated with providing health coverage and other expenses provided to an uncovered or underserved population. Most importantly, it will provide federal employees in same-sex domestic partnerships, living together in a committed relationship, the same benefits enjoyed by the spouses of federal employees.  

"Maryland is home to more than 132,000 federal employees who are part of the very backbone of our government. The Federal Government must compete hard to recruit and retain quality civil servants, but we are falling behind the private sector," said Senator Cardin. "Domestic partnership benefits, similar to those contained in the Act, are already provided by half of the of the nation's Fortune 500 companies, such as GE, Chevron, Boeing, AT&T, Disney and other corporations, as well as the governments of 13 states, and 139 cities and towns. I consider domestic partner benefits a matter of fairness and equality, as well as good financial sense."

Under the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act, a federal employee and same-sex domestic partner unrelated by blood and living together in a committed intimate relationship would be eligible to participate in federal retirement benefits, life insurance, health benefits, workers' compensation, long term care insurance, the Family and Medical Leave program, as well as dental and vision benefits. Such employees and their domestic partners would also assume the same obligations that apply to married employees and their spouses, such as anti-nepotism rules and financial disclosure requirements.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that offering such benefits for same-sex domestic partners of federal employees would increase the cost of operating the federal employee benefits by less than one-half of one percent.  "The cost clearly is outweighed by the benefit of recruiting and retaining talented civil servants," Senator Cardin said.