Gay and lesbian federal workers are now
eligible for leave without pay to attend to their family's
educational and medical needs, a benefit previously only available to
In a September 10 memo, John Berry,
director of Office of Personnel Management (OPM), instructs federal
agencies to extend 24 hours of leave without pay each year to gay
workers with a domestic partner.
The benefit can be used to attend
school functions; accompany children to medical and dental
appointments; or care for an elderly partner.
President Obama last year extended
fringe benefits to the partners of gay workers, who are now eligible
for federal long term health care insurance and can take paid leave
to care for an ill partner. But partners of federal gay workers
remain blocked from access to primary health insurance and pension
Full benefits cannot be extended
because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bars federal
agencies from recognizing gay unions.
Legislation that would carve out an
exception to the law, Wisconsin Representative Tammy Baldwin's
Domestic Benefits & Obligations Act (DPBO), has stalled in the
House and Senate, despite receiving the president's endorsement.