Some federal offices hasten toward equality for LGBT couples

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When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act last week, many expected it would have an immediate and positive impact on thousands of LGBT couples and their families. If you are an employee of the federal government the changes are already happening. Within days, the federal Office of Personnel Management created a special 60-day open enrollment period for federal employees who are legally married to a spouse of the same sex to begin receiving access to benefits for which they are now eligible.

 

For years, LGBT activists had lobbied for the changes in OPM policy, but were blocked by the DOMA law. They say that LGBT couples rightly deserve all of those benefits, including health insurance; life insurance; flexible savings accounts; and the ability of retirees to elect a survivor annuity if they have married following retirement. That seems to now be the case for many, if not most, couples who work for the federal government and reside in states that recognize their marriages as legal.

The Department of Homeland Security has clarified that U.S. citizens in same-sex binational marriages are now eligible to apply for green cards for their spouses in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse. This is a clear victory that LGBT activists sought before the end of this year. The decision by the Supreme Court has cleared the way for thousands of bi-national couples to be treated as married legally by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Homeland Security. This decision seems to apply to all same-sex binational couples regardless of where they reside.

“These are policy changes with the capacity to make a significant difference in people’s lives. I am so happy to see the administration moving quickly to ensure same-sex couples and their families are finally treated fairly,” said Lee Swislow, the executive director of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.

GLAD has set up hotlines and website information for couples still encountering any problems: (800) 455-GLAD, or email gladlaw@glad.org.

When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act last week, many expected it would have an immediate and positive impact on thousands of LGBT couples and their families. If you are an employee of the federal government the changes are already happening. Within days, the federal Office of Personnel Management created a special 60-day open enrollment period for federal employees who are legally married to a spouse of the same sex to begin receiving access to benefits for which they are now eligible.