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Benefits for Extends Same-Sex Partner
19 06 2009

On Wednesday, June 17, President Barack Obama signed a memorandum extending certain benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. The document was worked out in cooperation with the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, congressional members Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin, and LGBT organization leaders Joe Solmonese, Rea Carey, Jennifer Chrisler and Frank Kameny. The Oval Office signing took about five minutes, www.advocate.com informs.

Obama called the day historical and noted: “We all have to acknowledge this is only one step.”

Mr. Obama's presidential order means that the gay partners of federal employees will get some health benefits currently enjoyed by the heterosexual partners of government workers. Employees' partners can now be added to a government insurance programme paying for long-term conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease.

They will also be allowed to take sick leave to care for a sick partner or non-biological child. However, the new order doesn't extend another health care benefits or pensions for partners as many had hoped, www.bbc.co.uk announces.

The move comes amid anger from Mr. Obama's gay supporters that he has maintained US military's “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, banning gays in its service and over a Justice Department's DOMA Brief last week.

On June 12, the US Justice Department issued a brief in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows states not to recognize such unions of other states. A candidate then - Senator Obama called this act “abhorrent.”

The brief, which compared in legal terms same-sex marriages to incestuous and pedophile ones, has met with some anger and protest among HR and LGBT organizations at the same last week, especially because of abusive language use.

On June 15, Joe Solmonese, the president of the LGBT rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), wrote the open letter to the President, arguing with Obama Justice Department’s use of the “argument” “that excluding same-sex couples from basic protections is somehow good for other married people.” (The brief said that “Because all 50 States recognize hetero-sexual marriage, it was reasonable and rational for Congress to maintain its longstanding policy of fostering this traditional and universally-recognized form of marriage.”)

In this letter Solmonese urges the President to move to repeal DOMA through introducing the corresponding legislation.

DOMA Brief has met with huge protest among other LGBT organizations, including Rea Carey, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco, Antonio Villaraigosa and Gavin Newsom, participating in LA Pride parade, and others.

Administration officials say the President is seeking to repeal the longstanding policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as well as DOMA through the congress.

It is considerable that the last time’s frequent controversial opinions about Obama policy prompted three prominent gay donors to the Democratic Party to withdraw from a party fundraiser, which is due to take place on June, 25.