Saturday, September 27, 2008

More on the DPBO hearing

HRC ran this story on Wednesday's hearing. I am including it because of the links to different testimonies as well as pdfs on states and companies with benefits.

Senate holds first hearing on need for federal employee partner benefits
September 24, 2008
Chris Johnson

This morning at 10 AM EST, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held the first-ever U.S. Senate hearing exclusively on federal employee partner benefits. Titled “Domestic Partner Benefits for Federal Employees: Fair Policy and Good Business,” the hearing was coordinated by Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Ranking Member Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). Today's hearing is an important and necessary step toward enactment of equal employment benefits for LGBT federal civilian employees. HRC worked closely with the Senate staff in crafting the legislation and was a lead coalition partner in lobbying for the hearing.

In his written testimony submitted for the hearing, Joe Solmonese said:

"This legislation, which is long overdue, would bring the federal government up to the standards of America’s leading employers, who provide these benefits in order to recruit and retain the most talented workforce possible. Equal pay for equal work is a value fundamental to American opportunity. The federal government should be the standard bearer for fair workplace practices. As long it denies gay and lesbian employees the comprehensive family benefits that their heterosexual colleagues receive, the federal government will fall short of that standard, and continue to lag behind the nation’s top employers."

Read Joe's complete written testimony here. (PDF)

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who authors the companion bill, H.R. 4838, in the House, said:

"I welcome this Senate hearing and consider it one more step in our march toward full equality. Only when we eliminate discriminatory practices in the workplace will we allow both employees and businesses to reach their full potential. As an employer, the federal government must not only set an example, but must compete with corporate America for the best-qualified workforce. Offering domestic partner benefits is a means toward both ends."

HRC worked with employers in the private sector to endorse the legislation and reached out to all Congressional offices with up-to-date resources such as the Corporate Equality Index, demonstrating support and need for DP Benefits. The benefits for federal employees would include family health insurance, pension and survivor benefits and relocation expenses for families who are transferred. And for State Department employees abroad it would include access to anti-terrorism and language training, medical facilities, and evacuation services. The need for federal domestic partner benefits was also incorporated in HRC’s "7 Days to a Better Financial You," with stories from former Ambassador Michael Guest and other federal civilian employees explaining how the lack of benefits hurts LGBT families.

Related Documents:
Factsheet on Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act (DPBO) (PDF)
States with domestic partner benefits - 2008 (PDF)
Coalition endorsement letter to Chairman Lieberman in support of DPBO (PDF)
Fortune 500 companies with domestic partner benefits (PDF)

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