Received minutes apart…
First, I get this from Courtney:
When it comes to employee benefits, “the federal government should be leading the way rather than following,” Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., said in December.
This criticism might seem unwarranted because the government does offer many benefits that are competitive with or even superior to those in the private sector. Smith, however, was referring to one area where the government falls behind: extending health and retirement benefits to same-sex partners.
Late last year, Smith and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., introduced the latest iteration of legislation (S. 2521) to bring the federal government up to speed. But the legislation stalled, as did similar bills dating back at least to 2001.
Supporters including employee groups such as the National Treasury Employees Union and the American Federation of Government Employees say same-sex partner benefits are not simply a matter of fairness.
Approval of such benefits “will only strengthen the federal workforce and help the government recruit and retain the skilled and talented employees it needs,” NTEU President Colleen Kelley said when the Smith-Lieberman bill was introduced.
One of the federal government’s selling points to new employees is the strength of the benefits agencies offer. But for gay and lesbian employees, the financial value of those benefits may be less if they have to purchase additional health insurance for their partners.
Other employers have already made what initially might have been a difficult decision to extend partner benefits; the government might want to consider following their example.”
And then I received this from -Deb- in Mad City:
<rant> Since we can’t be married, Susan and I are getting our legal paperwork together (for the second time… have to re-do for Wisconsin). And today I found out that Susan may not be able to give me her medical power of attorney (to make medical decisions for her if she’s incapacitated) because I work for her healthcare provider, and I’m not related to her. Of course I work for her healthcare provider because I work in that industry and she (thankfully) has insurance through me via domestic partner benefits. But we are not related because we cannot marry.
I’m mad. Really mad. This is just one example of thousands of ways we are discriminated against, and I’m sick of it. I don’t know what to do except share my frustration, and ask you to share it as well when you hear people making light of the issue of gay marriage. </rant>
Thanks for listening.”