June is LGBT Pride Month. One of the best ways to celebrate this community is by making sure that its members have the same rights and benefits as the rest of our Federal family.
LGBT Pride Month was created as a way to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, which were a tipping point in the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. What began as “Gay Pride Day,” has grown to a month-long series of events around the country. These commemorations also include memorials for members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS.
President Obama has appointed more than 300 openly LGBT professionals to serve in his administration -- more openly LGBT presidential appointees than all previous administrations combined. They include: John Berry, Ambassador to Australia and formerly Director of OPM; Rufus Gifford, Ambassador to Denmark; Fred P. Hochberg, Chairman and President of the Import-Export Bank of the United States; and Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy at DOL.
The President has also appointed more than a dozen openly gay Federal judges. They include Elaine Kaplan, a judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and a former Acting Director and General Counsel of OPM.
One of my highest priorities as Director of OPM is ensuring the diversity of our Federal workforce and a workplace where every employee feels respected, safe and valued.
OPM has been at the forefront of ensuring benefits the Federal Government offers are as inclusive as possible. In the past several years, we have adjusted policies so that same-sex domestic partners now qualify for many benefits, from using the Family and Medical Leave Act to take care of a partner’s ill son or daughter to getting help from an agency’s Employee Assistance Programs.
We have also amended the regulations that set the definitions related to family member and immediate relative in order to clarify that they cover same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners. So when an employee with a same-sex partner needs to use sick leave, funeral leave, leave transfer, or the leave bank, he or she has the same benefits as employees with opposite-sex partners.
And following the Supreme Court’s ruling last June that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, OPM began immediately adjusting policies and regulations to reflect that change. This included extending health care and retirement benefits to employees in same-sex marriages, and clarifying that employees could take FMLA leave to care for same-sex spouses.
OPM will be holding an LGBT Information Webcast on these and many other benefits from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on June 18. Federal employees and benefits managers will get an overview of benefits since the repeal of Section 3 of DOMA and be able to ask questions of our benefit officers.
As the President said in his proclamation declaring June LGBT Pride Month: “We celebrate victories that have affirmed freedom and fairness, and we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains.”
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