Browsing: gay rights

Appeals court strikes down DOMA as unconstitutional

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The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan today ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, the Associated Press said, becoming the second federal appeals court to do so this year. DOMA requires the federal government to define marriage as between one man and one woman, and as a result blocks federal spousal benefits — such as health and retirement benefits — from going to the legally-married same-sex spouses of federal employees. The case in today’s ruling — Windsor v. United States — is not related to federal employee benefits. But other cases challenging DOMA have centered…

OPM's Berry: Justice Dept. opinion ties my hands on gay spouses' health benefits

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Last week we reported that even though lesbian federal employee Karen Golinski won health coverage for her wife — courtesy of a February court ruling — the Office of Personnel Management is still instructing federal agencies to deny the same coverage to all other gay and lesbian feds’ spouses. Today I asked OPM Director John Berry how his agency can legally extend Federal Employees Health Benefits Program benefits to only one couple, and treat thousands more differently. He said, basically, that the Justice Department’s legal opinion on the Golinski ruling has tied OPM’s hands: As someone who’s openly gay and…

OPM: FEHBP must cover lesbian fed's wife, but no other same-sex spouses

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Karen Golinski, a lesbian federal employee, won a major court victory in February when a federal judge ruled that the government had to extend health benefits to her same-sex wife. But other gay and lesbian feds won’t be able to benefit from Golinski’s victory at this time. The Office of Personnel Management in March ordered Blue Cross Blue Shield to cover Golinski’s wife, Amy Cunninghis. But today, OPM sent a notice out on its listserv that said the Golinski ruling does not apply to anyone else. “OPM has been directed by the Department of Justice to continue applying the Defense…

Gay and lesbian feds: We want to hear from you on DOMA ruling

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Judge Tauro’s decision last week striking down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional could have big consequences for married gay and lesbian federal employees in Massachusetts. If you’re one of them — or the spouse or partner of a gay and lesbian fed — we’d like to hear from you on the possibility of gaining spousal health insurance benefits. E-mail me at slosey@federaltimes.com if you’d like to talk.

Labor: FMLA covers same-sex partners' children

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The Labor Department yesterday said it interprets the Family and Medical Leave Act to allow an employee to take leave to care for any child for whom that employee is the primary caregiver, “regardless of the legal or biological relationship.” This new interpretation of how FMLA defines “son and daughter” means that any employee in the United States will be able to take unpaid time off to care for any child he is serving as parent to. That includes an employee’s nephew or grandchild, if the employee has stepped in to raise the child, or the son or daughter of an employee’s unmarried domestic…

Sick leave benefits for domestic partners: What do you think?

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The Office of Personnel Management earlier this week finalized regulations allowing federal employees — both gay and straight — to take leave to attend to their sick or deceased domestic partners. What do you think about this? Have you needed this benefit to help care for your partner? Or has your manager been willing to look the other way and give you the time you needed for your partner or your partner’s relatives? Federal Times would like to hear from you. E-mail me at slosey@federaltimes.com if you’d like to talk. If you’re more comfortable with speaking anonymously, that’s fine too.

Domestic partners — both straight and gay — get leave benefits July 14

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Federal employees will be able to take leave to attend to their sick or deceased domestic partners beginning July 14, under final regulations issued today by the Office of Personnel Management. Feds also will be able to take up to 13 days of sick leave to care for their domestic partners or their partners’ parents, children or grandchildren. And agencies will be able to advance feds up to 13 days of sick leave if they are out of leave. Take note that these changes will apply equally to both unmarried heterosexual and homosexual domestic partnerships. The Obama administration recently extended long…

Mr. Sulu, gay marriage and the Census

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Happy Census Day! April 1 is the day the 2010 Census forms are officially due, but it’s kind of a soft deadline. The Census Bureau will keep accepting forms by mail until mid-April, and will start door-to-door surveys May 1 to collect information from households who haven’t yet responded. Of course, they’d prefer to get as many mail responses as possible. It costs the Census Bureau $57 to visit an average household, versus the 42 cents it costs to mail a survey in. Only 54 percent of the nation’s estimated 134 million households have so far responded to the Census. It’s…

Political appointment becomes Letterman punch line

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President Obama’s appointment of the first openly transgender person to a political post became a punch line on David Letterman’s late night talk show, and a leading gay rights group has come out swinging. Amanda Simpson began her new job Tuesday as senior technical adviser in the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, where she will monitor the exports of U.S. weapons technology. Simpson, who has worked in the aerospace and defense industry for 30 years, is the first openly transgender person to receive a presidential appointment, the Human Rights Campaign said. She was born a male and began her transition to…