Most Readers Oppose Expanding Federal Employee Benefits for ‘Domestic Partners’

A majority of readers are opposed to legislation that would open federal benefits to “domestic partners” but there are strong beliefs for and against the proposal.

FedSmith reported recently a proposal to change benefits for federal employees. In effect, the legislative proposal would allow all unmarried federal employees to apply for health, dental and vision insurance, retirement and other benefits for their domestic partners.

When the story ran, the article received a large number of comments reflecting passion for and against the proposal. The response led to a survey on the following question. As with the initial news item, the survey resulted in a large number of people responding and a few hundred readers following up their survey vote by sending in their views on the subject.

Do you favor legislation to allow unmarried federal employees to apply for health, dental and vision insurance, retirement and other benefits for their domestic partners?

Here are the results of the survey.

  • 53% of readers responding are opposed to the legislative proposal
  • 44% are in favor of the proposal
  • 3% of those responding are undecided.

Readers in favor of the proposal often stated that the proposal was “fair” and reflected changes in society.

Those opposed often cited cost, administrative problems with a system that provided benefits for “domestic partners,” objections based on religious beliefs or a general belief that the proposal reflected a decline of morals and values in American society.
Hundreds of comments were sent in by readers. Here is a small sampling of the opinions against and for the legislative proposal.

  • A fuels specialist from the Forest Service in California expressed disagreement with the proposal in this way: “How do you define a domestic partner (boyfriend, girlfriend, same-sex, how many years together etc.)? What happens when they go their separate ways? Bad idea – it’s too hard to manage even if you wanted to.”
  • An engineer with the Corps of Engineers in Sacramento, CA wrote: “The liberals are leading us down a path of doom and destruction. Politically correct sensitivities such as this are a bunch of crap.”
  • A management analyst with the VA in Austin, TX said: “If domestic partners want benefits, then let them get a job and get their benefits through their own company.”
  • A veterans service representative from Newark, NJ had a similar view: “Absolutely not! The government would be taking a proactive step towards legalizing gay marriage by doing this. Not to mention the potential for fraud. Health insurance for family members are based on legal relationships, not friends, partners, lovers etc.”
  • An employee relations contractor with TSA in Arlington, VA had this comment: “Just another politically correct ploy to garner votes, stay in office and wield more power while scraping away at the threads that bind society, family, and culture. Where is truth, justice and the American way when you need it?”
  • A human resources specialist with the Air Force at Eglin AFB, FL reflected the views of a number of readers with this observation: “This would further erode the value of marriage.”
  • A federal employee from Ft. McPherson, GA has this view: “The Fed Govt should only provide benefits to legally married partners. The hetero family is the basis of our culture. How individuals decide to live is their business but I should not pay to destroy my culture; their partnership is not a family unit.”
  • An engineer from the Dept. of Energy in Washington State commented: “If we allow this change, where where will it end. we may lose all control over the definition of “partner”, which may lead to pets or multiple partners to get additional benefits. I could even see, people trying scam the system by charging a roomate/tenant and profiting for providing a benefit.”
  • A risk management specialist from the USDA in Kansas City reflected the views of some readers with the belief that: “This is against God’s law.”
  • A health insurance specialist from Woodlawn, MD dislikes a “gay agenda”: “The intent was for the female partner to have benefits in case her husband died or was not able to work. She would be able to take care and support the children, etc. without being a burden on society. This gay agenda has gone too far.”
  • And a technician with the Corps of Engineers in Louisville, KY has this thought: “Where is it going to end. If the framers of the Constitution were alive today, they would have tears in their eyes seeing the direction that this country is going.”
  • But, while a majority of respondents were opposed to the proposal, some readers had strong beliefs in favor of it. Here is a sampling of the comments in favor of the proposal.
  • A human resources advisor from NOAA in Boulder, CO wrote: “Since same sex couples cannot get married, they deserve a modicum of equal treatment under the law. To disallow the benefits to domestic partners is a form of legalized discrimination. This includes heterosexual, common-law partners.”
  • A team leader from SSA in Seattle, WA has reached this conclusion: “The government is lagging behind the private sector and other modernized nations. With the future comes new challenges that need to be given consideration. Our culture is changing and should be inclusive of these changes in society.”
  • A computer specialist from the VA in Syracuse, NY apparently has passionate views on the topic: “Right now, married people have a good deal – we all pay for these benefits but only they can benefit. No wonder they want to keep a monopoly on recieving MY MONEY!! Not to mention that gay couples are forbidden to join the lucky group of beneficiaries, while still being REQUIRED/FORCED to donate!! NOT FAIR!!”
  • A claims examiner with the Dept. of Labor commented: “Like many Americans I have gay family members and friends. I want them to have the same rights I have as a married heterosexual woman.”
  • An IT technicial with the Treasury Dept. in Washington reflected the views of some commentators when writing: “They pay into the system, they deserve equal consideration and respect. If they’re not hurting any other living creatures, then who are we to judge?!”
  • An employee with the USDA from Minnesota says: “Yes, as long as it allows all unmarried partners, whether they are same sex or opposite sex. There are many reasons today why people would not make the choice to get married.”
  • An accounting technicial from DFAS in Omaha, NE has given the proposal some thought: “I am in favor of allowing employees in a long-term relationship to obtain health insurance coverage for their partner. My concern, though, is what prevents an employee from covering just anyone? There is a huge difference between committted partners, and someone who is simply the current roommate.”
  • A program technician from Arizona is in favor of the proposal: “I want this as I have a domestic partner I would like to cover with my health benefits, we are NOT SAME SEX, most insurances have allowed this for years!!”
  • A Forest Service employee from Denver wrote: “[I]n this day and age domestic partners should have the option to be included on an employee’s insurance and benefits package. For the most part these partnerships seem as stable as many heterosexual marriages and the stress relief for the employee would be palpable in the workplace in less stress-related illnesses due to the additional expense of additional insurance premiums and poriferal (sic) amenities.”
  • A human resources generalist with the Army in Kentucky comments: “[A]s a Christian, I cannot ethically or morally accept the fact that there are persons working in the federal sector, that because of partner selection, are not permitted the same employment benefits I am. I provide for my family and if they have selected a mate as a life partner, they should be able to provide for their family.”

Our thanks to all readers who took the time to participate in this survey and a special thanks to those who submitted their written views on the subject.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47