NEW REPORT: States prove that the federal government can offer domestic partner benefits

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WASHINGTON, DC—Today, in advance of a landmark hearing on the rights of federal employees in same-sex partnerships, the Center for American Progress released “One Simple Step for Equality: States Prove that the Federal Government Could Offer Domestic Partner Benefits With Ease.”

On September 24, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will hold the first hearing on the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act. This act would bring the federal government in line with the thousands of private-sector employers and 15 states and the District of Columbia that already offer domestic partner benefits to their employees.

Winnie Stachelberg, Josh Rosenthal, and Claire Stein-Ross researched the experiences of those 15 states and DC to understand what effects the DPBO would have on the federal government. The answers were simple—in states from Alaska to Illinois, domestic partner benefits have shared the following characteristics:

  • Low enrollment: Only 0.7 percent of Connecticut state employees took advantage of the domestic partner program for same-sex couples.
  • Minimal costs: In Iowa, only 0.5 percent of benefit spending goes toward domestic partners, for a program that includes different-sex partners unlike the proposed federal program.
  • Higher retention and recruitment rates: States such as Vermont and Washington have found that this benefit helps them to attract the best workforce.
  • Strong public support: When Arizona considered offering domestic partner benefits in 2006, 787 of the 913 public comments concerning the decision were supportive of extending the benefits.

The experiences of states from around the country clearly indicate that the federal government could adopt the provisions of the DPBO without significant cost or administrative difficulty, and with strong backing from employees and the public.

Click here to read more and download the report