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September 18, 2009

OPM proposes new regs on same-sex partner benefits for federal employees

Proposed regulations published in the Federal Register on Monday would clarify or expand same-sex partner benefits for federal employees.

The first proposed rule deals with leave issues such as family and medical leave and funeral leave. Existing law (dating from 1994) encompasses "any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship." OPM's proposal would make explicit that same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners are covered, to "ensure more consistent application of policy across the Federal Government." According to OPM, the details of implementation differ in agency-level policies, and some agencies have no written policies.

The second proposal deals with eligibility to apply for coverage under the Federal Long Term Care insurance Program, and expands the definition of "qualified relative" to include same-sex domestic partners.

Public comments on both of the proposed regs will be accepted until November 13, after which OPM will consider the commentary and then publish final regulations.

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