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Obama Gives Some Benefits to Same-Sex Partners of Federal Workers

Posted Jun 17, 2009 6:19 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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President Barack Obama signed a memorandum today that provides partial benefits to same-sex partners of federal civil service workers.

Although the measure doesn't provide medical coverage and retirement benefits, it does provide access to a government insurance program that covers long-term conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, reports the Washington Post in its Federal Eye blog.

“Many of our government’s hard-working and dedicated, patriotic public servants have long been denied basic rights that their colleagues enjoy, for one simple reason: The people they love are of the same sex,” the president said during an Oval Office signing ceremony.

A Wall Street Journal article published before Obama signed the memo describes his action as a "small win" for the gay and lesbian rights community, although it also apparently will ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in federal employment.

Officials in the Obama administration say the president lacks the power to grant full benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers, because the Defense of Marriage Act prohibits doing so. Obama has pledged to try to repeal the 1996 law.

Related earlier coverage:

Los Angeles Times: "Obama to offer benefits to gay partners of federal employees"

New Economy Blog (Christian Science Monitor): "Obama move on same-sex benefits: small costs, big politics "

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