Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), suggested last week that the federal government treats pets better than gay spouses.

In a statement released on the group's blog, Solmonese said: “Current law puts federal workers' parrots ahead of their partners. It is time for Congress to act to put people first and extend health care benefits equally to all of their employees.”

The president of the nation's largest gay rights group was referring to the fact that federal workers can buy into insurance policies for their pets, but not a gay or lesbian partner.

Legislation sponsored by Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman in the Senate and Wisconsin Representative Tammy Baldwin in the House that would end the inequality has cleared committees in both chambers but awaits floor action.

Under the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009 (DPBO), the spouses of gay and lesbian federal employees would be eligible for certain benefits, including health benefits, currently barred by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that prohibits federal agencies from recognizing gay unions.

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) survey estimates that .33 percent of federal employees would choose to register a gay partner.

President Barrack Obama has stated his support for the bill. But neither Senate Leader Harry Reid or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have signaled interest in tackling the measure before the November midterm elections.