Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh. The Office of Personnel Management announced that same-sex partners of federal employees can begin applying for long-term care insurance next month.
President Obama signed a memo last June extending some benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers, including access to the government’s Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program. On Tuesday, OPM essentially broadened the definition of relatives eligible for the program to include same-sex domestic partners of eligible federal workers, U.S. Postal Service workers and federal retirees. OPM will not extend access to opposite-sex domestic partners, because they can obtain the insurance through marriage, “an option not currently available to same-sex domestic partners,” the agency wrote in Tuesday’s Federal Register. OPM said same-sex couples can visit www.ltcfeds.com to complete a form that states they are each other’s domestic partner and intend to stay together indefinitely. The federal worker must submit the form to their employer. Couples will not be required to provide further proof of the relationship, OPM said, because that “would impose a greater burden on domestic partners than other qualified relatives.” The agency said it does not ask opposite-sex couples for bank statements or other proof of marriage
Big Whoopie, they are extending coverage for the government’s Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program. THIS IS NOT HEALTH INSURANCE! Which will NOT be offered to same-sex partners and no other federal health-care or insurance programs such as Life Insurance inclusion and/or Retirement Options be offered.
The Obama Administration continues to claim that it is prevented by existing Federal law (DOMA) from providing same-sex domestic partners with the full range of benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples even though a Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, Judge Alex Kozinski has has ruled that the Federal Goverment can INDEED allow medical benefits for partners of gay federal employees WITHOUT violating DOMA in a ruling in the case of Karen Golinski which Head [White] House Fagroe John Berry now chooses to ignore and fight against!
Karen and her life partner of twenty years, Amy Cunninghis, married in California in 2008. After working for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as a judicial attorney for seventeen years, and with new legal force supporting her relationship after her marriage, Karen renewed a prior request for family health benefits.
When Karen’s request was denied, Lambda Legal and pro bono counsel at Morrison & Foerster LLP assisted her with her internal administrative grievance, as required by the court’s personnel policies. Hearing the case in his role as Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, Judge Alex Kozinski agreed that Karen is entitled to equal compensation in the form of family benefits for Amy, and that the so-called federal “Defense of Marriage Act” poses no barrier. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”) then interfered, however, directing Karen’s insurer to defy Judge Kozinski’s orders and not enroll Amy in Karen’s family health plan.
Karen’s case started during the Bush administration, but we found ourselves facing a surprising adversary after the election. President Obama’s administration has continued aggressively to defy Kozinski’s orders, while also refusing to offer its legal arguments in court. Repeated conversations with administration attorneys and representatives have yielded no progress, leaving us to wonder – where is the “fierce advocate” for LGBT rights that President Obama promised us? The administration made its case during the health care debate about the need to have more people in group health plans-the very solution it so vigorously denies Karen.
After OPM flouted no fewer than four court orders from Judge Kozinski, we were forced to initiate an enforcement case in federal court. It was a disappointing irony when we had to name as a defendant OPM Director John Berry, believed by many to be the highest ranking openly gay person in the administration. Karen’s case is now pending in the District Court for the Northern District of California, where we’re seeking an order requiring OPM to stop interfering with the court’s personnel practices in violation of the constitutional “separation of powers” doctrine and other rules.
As Judge Kozinski recognized when ordering back pay for Karen as partial compensation for the insurance coverage she’s been denied so far, there is an “inherent inequality” in allowing heterosexuals to participate in the employee health plan while giving lesbians and gay men like Karen “a wad of cash to go elsewhere. Even if the destination is the same, it’s still the back of the bus.”
So while The White House spins the crumbs of a few third rate benefits into what seems to be “equality” but in fact makes us seem and feel more like second class citizens and Joe Solmonese creams another $500.00 suit because Obama smiled at him, just remember it is what it is.