These regs provide some sane relief from word that Chick-fil-A’s owner thinks people who support same-sex marriage are shaking their fists at God and the disturbing news the Boy Scouts will continue to reject gay boys and leaders. (I might turn in my Eagle Scout badge if I knew where it was.)
■Allow low-income workers to obtain child-care subsidies for children of same-sex domestic partners and permit domestic partners to participate in employee assistance programs. Programs cover substance abuse, stress, family problems and psychological disorders.
■Provide evacuation pay to cover same-sex partners in overseas emergencies.
■Treat same-sex domestic partners like spouses for purposes of choosing an “insurable interest” option at retirement. This could provide a survivor annuity for a same-sex partner. However, unlike spouses they would not be eligible for continued health insurance coverage after the retiree died.
■Makes same-sex domestic partners of federal workers eligible for noncompetitive U.S. government jobs when a staffer returns from a foreign posting.
The office of Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), chairman of the House federal workforce subcommittee, did not respond to a request for comment on the regulations.
Fred Sainz, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization, praised the regulations as “small but important steps to achieving greater parity for LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] federal workers and their families.”
Another reg that will be proposed Friday would extend health insurance and dental and vision benefits to the children of same-sex domestic partners of federal employees, but not to the domestic partners.
Sainz said this regulation “will improve the lives of federal employees and their families, and is a significant step in making the federal government a welcoming and competitive workplace for LGBT people.”
But there are more steps to take.
The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act would provide same-sex domestic partners federal employee fringe benefits, such as health and life insurance and retirement benefits. It has been approved by a Senate committee, but chances that the bill will be approved by the full Congress this year are zero.
“Congress should follow the administration’s lead,” Sainz said, “and remove the discriminatory barriers that keep LGBT federal workers from receiving all of the workplace benefits that they have earned.”
What Congress should do and what it will do are two different things.
In plain English
When it comes to speaking plainly, the Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t make the grade.
Actually, it made two grades — double Fs — in a report card on how selected agencies have implemented the Plain Writing Act, which is a year old this month. It is designed to foster clear communications in government documents.