A bill which would extend some benefits to the gay partners of federal employees cleared a Senate panel on Wednesday.

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee approved the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act on a voice vote.

Senators Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Susan Collins of Maine reintroduced the measure late last year.

“Correcting this situation that allows for unequal treatment among federal workers not only fixes a fundamental unfairness in the current system, it will help the federal government recruit and retain talented employees who might otherwise reject federal service because … they can get fairer benefits packages from other private or public sector employers,” Lieberman is quoted as saying by POLITICO.com in his opening remarks.

“It's just a matter of making the federal government's benefits structure comparable of those of large employers,” Collins said.

Lieberman and Collins have backed the measure in the past two Congresses.

Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin has introduced the House version of the bill. A committee hearing in the Republican-controlled House, however, does not appear to be in the offing.