A key House panel approved a
bill Thursday that would extend health-care benefits to gay and lesbian
spouses, the Washington Post
Openly lesbian Tammy Baldwin's Domestic
Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act was approved by the House
subcommittee on federal workforce issues on a 5 to 3 party-line vote.
The full committee is expected to take up the legislation in
The Wisconsin Democrat's bill would
provide health and retirement benefits to the gay and lesbian spouses
of federal employees.
Last month, President Obama signed an
executive order that granted federal employees sick leave to take
care of a sick partner or a non-biological child but stopped short of
extending access to primary health insurance and pensions to gay
At the executive order signing ceremony
surrounded by gay leaders and lawmakers in the Oval Office Obama
commended Baldwin for her work on the issue and urged passage of the
“Extending equal benefits to the
same-sex partners of federal employees is the right thing to do,”
Democrats argued that the federal
government was behind the private sector on the issue.
“We are way behind in this country,”
Eleanor Holmes, a delegate from D.C., said. “Wake up. The country
has changed on these issues. Congress is following, not leading.”
But Republicans balked at the
legislation, calling it “special rights.”
“I am against taxpayers funding for
these benefits because it is totally inconsistent with the belief
that marriage should be one man and one woman,” Representative Mark
Souder, a Republican from Illinois, said.
Baldwin said in a statement that she
was “delighted” with the subcommittee's approval.