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News Release

Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Contact: Communications & Public Liaison
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Director John Berry Lauds Signing of Presidential Memorandum on the Extension of Benefits to Same-Sex Domestic Partners of Federal Employees

President Obama directs agencies, to the extent permitted by law, to extend benefits currently available to spouses of federal employees to the same-sex domestic partners of federal employees

Washington, DC - Today, US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director John Berry praised the issuance of the Presidential Memorandum which directs Federal agencies to begin immediately to implement the changes necessary to extend benefits to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees that are currently available to opposite sex spouses, wherever permitted by law. The benefits that will be extended were identified by agencies in reports supplied to OPM. OPM, along with the Department of Justice, analyzed the agency reports, and recommended to the President that all of the benefits the agencies identified could and should be extended to same sex domestic partners of federal employees.

The benefits to be extended include, among others, access to day care for the children of employees' domestic partners, travel and relocation allowances, and access to employee assistance programs.

The President has also directed that when agencies extend new benefits in the future, they are to provide coverage to same-sex domestic partners equivalent to that offered to opposite sex spouses, to the extent permitted by law.

"This is another major step forward for gay and lesbian federal employees. But it's also a good business practice -- this will help us retain valuable employees and better compete with other employers for top talent," said Director Berry.  "President Obama has stated clearly that this is an issue of equality.  But just as important, youth today, LGBT or not, see these benefits as a litmus test for determining high quality employers."

OPM has issued guidance to implement President's Memorandum. The guidance identifies additional benefits that agencies reported could be extended to cover same-sex domestic partners. These include gym and credit union memberships, access to career and other counseling and assistance services, access to government medical facilities, and lodging allowances.

Agencies will be reporting to OPM on an annual basis on their progress in providing these benefits, and OPM will submit annual reports to the President. Changes in agency regulations, policies, or contracts may be necessary to implement the extension of certain benefits.

While the Presidential Memorandum directs agencies to provide benefits to federal employees' same sex domestic partners to the extent permitted by law, there are a number of important employment benefits that cannot be extended without legislative changes such as those being proposed in the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which is supported by the President. These include health insurance benefits under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, as well as retirement benefits.

To review the OPM Guidance, please visit

OPM oversees human resources and benefits policies for over 1.9 million Federal civil servants and 2.5 million retirees and survivor annuitants.

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OPM leads and serves the Federal Government in enterprise human resources management by delivering policies and services to achieve a trusted, effective civilian workforce. By Empowering Excellence in Government through Great People, we provide leadership and support to U.S. agencies on issues including human resources policy and oversight, background investigations, federal employee benefits, retirement services, guidance on labor-management relations, and programs to improve workforce performance. For more information, visit or follow OPM on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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