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Gay federal workers can take leave without pay

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 1:43 p.m. ET
Gay and lesbian federal workers with a same-sex partner can now take leave without pay to attend to their family's educational and medical needs.

The Office of Personnel Management announced the changes late last week, instructing federal agencies to extend 24 hours of leave without pay each year to gay federal workers, essentially allowing them to attend school functions and medical and dental appointments or to provide care to an elderly partner.

President Obama last year extended fringe benefits to the same-sex partners of federal workers, most of whom are now eligible for federal long-term health insurance, medical treatment, relocation assistance, credit unions and fitness centers. Gay and lesbian federal workers now also can take paid leave to care for sick or dying same-sex partners.

OPM Director John Berry said Tuesday that agencies also are reviewing plans to extend relocation assistance to same-sex partners, a benefit already granted to the partners of gay and lesbian State Department workers.

"Anything we can do to make our federal employees know that we respect them and we want to treat them equally, we should be about doing," Berry said.

The federal government's leave-without-pay policy is separate from the Family and Medical Leave Act and Obama cannot extend full benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees unless Congress passes relevant legislation. Efforts to do so have stalled this year in the House and Senate.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | September 14, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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Wow. We can take a day off and get NO MONEY in order to take care of our families. Thanks for more fierce advocacy, Mr. Obama.

Posted by: nycjim | September 14, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

How is this a good thing? Am I supposed to be jumping for joy?

Posted by: rlloveras | September 14, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Yet another crumb from from our "fierce advocate". And,once again, basically no mention of HR 2517/S 1102(Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act).
I had foolishly assumed that with Obama's election and a democrat controlled Congress, domestic partner benefits would finally be passed.
It appears that the legislation will not even be put to a vote.

Posted by: devdry | September 15, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

And just who verifies that the same sex partner is really a "partner" and not just a close friend? And just how many "partners" can one have in a year before they are not classified as partners but one or two month affairs. And does this mean that I being male can now insure my girlfriend? We are not married but we are still "partners" at least until someone hotter comes along.

Posted by: 2012anewstart | September 15, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

That is completly insane! I can only imagine the abuse this law will receive, with multiple partners, and no way to validate,such as marriage certificates etc. The Federal Govt. is in a swift downward sprial and will completely be out of control very shortly. God help us.

Posted by: tbird3 | September 15, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

If it is good for some people, it should be good for all people--grandparents, aunts, uncles, family friends, etc. This is another bright idea to create tension between groups. Parents made the choice to have children and should have to accept the responsibilities which accompany the joys. They deserve no more consideration than non-parents.

It's been a while since I worked for the DoD, but, we were given sick hours (to be used when we were sick or for med. app'ts) and annual (vacation/personal) hours. Has that changed?

I think that the gov't should take a hard look at the people who use all that leave every year, plus the leave without pay--if the agency/division can still function without those people, maybe the positions should be abolished.

I'm not talking about just gays, but, rather, all gov't personnel. If my math is right, that could come to about 2 months (8 work weeks) of leave a year, per employee.

Posted by: coffic | September 15, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

There's a very simple solution to the issue of validating such relationships. It's called a sworn affidavit of domestic partnership, and they're already being used for various purposes to validate such relationships. For example, insurance companies accept these as evidence of insuaarble interest when it comes to issuing life insuarance policies to gay and lesbian couples. If the information contained in the affidavit is later discovered to be deliberately false, those who signed the statement can face criminal charges of perjury.

Posted by: dfl1 | September 15, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

There you have it. Another example of the same rights as straight, married partners made available to GLBT without desecrating marriage. dfl1 mentioned it below - it's called domestic partnership. Let's see a line-by-line comparison of rights. Last I looked, they match up almost verbatim. I'll bet some congresspersons or state legislators would love to tidy it up a bit to see that it matches almost uniformly. Hey WaPo, wanna take up this cause to wake up and unite Americans? It would be really nice to let eveyone see and learn this simple reality.

Posted by: LieToMe | September 15, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

In my country (USA) everyone should be treated the same...

Posted by: edmundsingleton1 | September 16, 2010 5:24 AM | Report abuse

The problem with civil unions and partnerships is that marriage is a universally recognized term. The other terms mean different things to lots of people, from full equality to "this is worthless trash"

I will say that those who advocate for CUs or DP are basically good people. Perhaps a little stuck in the mud re tradition, but trying to do the right thing, and I thank them for it.

The real problem is church and state. Marriage means a secular contract of love and support of two people for each other, which is a real benefit to society in so many ways.

It also means religious marriage.

What we should have, but it would also be hell to get there, is that we do what the french do.

Most french get a CU type contract, standard and recognized in france.

Separately, they have the option, if their church approves them, (which I support the church's right to decide without interference) to have a religious marriage that has no legal benefits, the benefits beign in the eyes of the believer.

Unfortunately there is history. If the churches which don't believe in gay marriage would support such an arrangement - I'd be in love with them.

But I guess I am a pessimist. Prove me wrong

Posted by: SJames6621 | September 16, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

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