Aug. 23, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

In Small Steps, Federal Agencies Recognize Gay Marriages

The organization has spent $5.3 million on lobbying the administration and Congress since Obama took office, about $1 million more than it spent by this point in second term of the Bush administration, according to federal records. During that time period, HRC employed six outside firms to augment the work of seven federally registered in-house lobbyists.

Obama has called for the repeal of DOMA, but the administration does not have the support of many Republican Members of Congress. As an alternative, he has endorsed legislation introduced by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) that would extend the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, life insurance and pension program to gay couples.

Conservative outside groups object to the expansion of any benefits to gay couples, arguing that it violates DOMA.

“I consider this to be a violation of the spirit, if not the letter of the federal Defense of Marriage Act,” said Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council who focuses on marriage issues. “It’s inappropriate for the executive branch to create this category that has no statutory basis. ... They want an unlimited smorgasbord of relationship options whose only common denominator is that they are subsidized by the government.”

The term “domestic partner” was first defined in a June 2010 by the Office of Personnel Management as a “committed relationship, between two adults, of the same sex.” Domestic partners of the opposite sex who choose not to marry are not eligible.

“At first, we started dealing with opposite-sex [partners],” said Rodney Miller, who manages travel and relocation policy at the GSA. “[The Office of Management and Budget] said no. All they wanted us to do was address the executive order. They are manning the budget of all the federal government, so they knew this is going to cost a few dollars to extend it beyond that.”

White House officials were unable to provide a dollar figure for what it will cost the government to extend benefits such as travel and relocation assistance to gay couples; however, one source at OPM said “our expectation is that the costs are negligible.”

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