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Akaka supports domestic partner benefits for federal employees


Sen. Daniel K. Akaka has reiterated his support for providing domestic partnership benefits to federal employees at a hearing of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Akaka is a co-sponsor of Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman’s Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009 (S. 1102).

“As a nation and an employer, we must hold ourselves to the highest standards of equality,” said Akaka, chairman of the Federal Workforce subcommittee. “Providing federal employees with domestic partner benefits will not only bring us closer to equality under the law, it simply makes sound business sense. A large number of private and public employers, including Hawaii, already provide domestic partner benefits. If the federal government is to recruit and retain the most talented employees, it must follow the lead of the private sector and offer domestic partner benefits to federal employees.”

Akaka applauded President Barack Obama for signing a Presidential Memorandum in June directing the heads of executive departments and federal agencies to provide certain benefits to the same sex partners of federal employees, though Akaka noted more work needs to be done.

In response to a question from Akaka, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry said OPM has collected information from federal agencies and is preparing to report to the president on what benefits can be extended to same sex partners under existing law.

Berry said enacting S. 1102 is critical because the administration does not currently have the authority to extend health, retirement, and certain other benefits.

Akaka also questioned Berry about the impact that offering domestic partnership benefits would have on the recruitment and retention of employees in the federal government.

Berry said recent college graduates and young professionals often prefer to work for employers that offer domestic partner benefits because it suggests the employer is fair, inclusive, and values diversity.

Akaka is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, in the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

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