Thursday, June 18, 2009

Q&A on Obama's Same-Sex Rights

I have gotten a few questions today regarding what the Obama move today means. I am going to answer a few of them quickly before I head off to be.

1. What happened?

Today, Obama signed a "presidential memorandum." It gives SOME benefits, such as sick leave, to Same-Sex domestic partnership benefits.

2. Is this a law?

Sorta. It is actually the lowest level of law. It is a presidential memorandum. Memorandums are tricky. They are less than executive orders and will expire when the president leaves. Think of it as your boss giving you an extra ten minutes for your lunch break. It is not official, and it is not policy, but effectively it gives you some rights. Executive orders are more official, which would be like office policy and would last until another president came in and actively changed it.

3. Do we have Health Care Benefits?

NO! This does not extend health care, pension, or social security benefits to federal employees. This would require a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

4. What does this mean for State Employees?

Nothing, If you work for UGA, you have no more rights tomorrow than you did today. This only effects FEDERAL employees.

5. Should I accept this as good?

Well, the community is a bit split on this, and I would love to get the reader's opinions before I share my own. Some believe that it is a good gesture. Other believe it is too little, too late.

6. What is next? Where do we go from here, etc?

The next step is to pass the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act. From Wikipedia:
The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act or the DPBO Act(S.2521, HR 4838) is a piece of United States legislation that would allow LGBT federal employees to give their unrecognized same-sex spouses and partners health insurance, life insurance, government pensions, and other employment related benefits and obligations that married heterosexual federal employees enjoy by being married and heterosexual. The Senate bill was introduced in December 2008 by Senator Joe Lieberman. The act was reintroduced in the 111th Congress. The measure is sponsored by Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) & Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) in the House and by Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) & Susan Collins (R-ME). Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) was quoted in May 2009 in an interview with the Washington Blade indicating that he believes supporters of the act "have a shot" at passing the bill.
Call your Senators and Representatives and tell them to support the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act.