The Obama administration on Friday
announced that as a result of this week's ruling striking down the
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the spouses of gay federal workers
would be eligible for key federal programs.
“Today my Administration announced
that, for the first time in history, we will be making important
federal employee benefits, including healthcare and retirement
benefits, available to eligible married gay and lesbian couples and
their families,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.
“Today's announcement represents a
historic step toward equality for all American families,” Attorney
General Eric Holder said. “The Supreme Court ruled this week that
Americans in same-sex marriages are entitled to equal protection and
equal treatment under the law. By extending health insurance and
other important benefits to federal employees and their families,
regardless of whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages,
the Obama Administration is making real the promise of this important
The guidance to executive department
and agency heads was issued by Elaine Kaplan, acting director of the
Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
Kaplan's memo also details new
eligibility under life insurance, dental and vision insurance,
long-term care insurance, retirement programs and flexible spending
accounts as a result of Wednesday's ruling.
The new benefits also apply to
The president earlier said that federal
eligibility should not be based on whether an employee's marriage is
recognized by his or her state of residency but whether the worker
has a valid marriage license.
An OPM spokesperson confirmed this to
“Yes, these benefits will be
available to any federal employee or annuitant who has a valid
marriage license, regardless of their state of residency,” Thomas
Richards, OPM director of communications, told
Still unanswered is whether the federal
government will treat civil unions – available in Colorado, New
Jersey, Illinois and Hawaii – as marriages.