Federal partner benefits bill headed to full Senate

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today voted 8-1 to send to the full Senate a measure that would give benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of federal employees.

The Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut, and Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican. Lieberman is also chair of the HSGA Committee.

The House version of the bill is sponsored by  Reps. Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican.

—  admin

Good news for gay couples in health reform bill

On Top magazine, in an article by Carlos Santoscoy posted to its Web site, is reporting that the historic health care reform bill approved by the U.S. House on Saturday night includes some good news for same-sex couples:

“The Affordable Health Care for America Act extends Medicaid to subsidize moderate-income people who otherwise could not afford quality health insurance. Also tucked inside the bill is Representative Jim McDermott’s Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act of 2009 introduced in May.

“McDermott, a Democrat from Washington, introduced the bill along with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee from Florida. The bill alters the tax status of health benefits granted to the spouses of gay employees. Under the bill, such benefits would no longer be considered taxable income for the employee.

“McDermott told the New York Times that the bill would ‘correct a longstanding injustice, end a blatant inequity in the tax code and help make health care coverage more affordable for more Americans.’

“A report released in 2007 by M. V. Lee Badgett, research director at the Williams Institute, found that gay employees with partners pay, on average, $1,069 per year more in taxes than would a married employee with the same coverage.

“‘Collectively, unmarried couples lose $178 million per year to additional taxes,’ the report says. ‘U.S. employers also pay a total of $57 million per year in additional payroll taxes because of this unequal tax treatment.’”

—  admin