US: White House announces more federal benefits for gay married couples

PinkNews logo surrounded by illustrated images including a rainbow, unicorn, PN sign and pride flag.

In line with the US Supreme Court’s strike down of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last year, the White House will announce today that benefits will be extended to all married same-sex couples across the US.

US Supreme Court justices in 2013 examined whether the federal government can deny tax, health and pension benefits to same-sex couples in states where they can legally get married. They ruled that they could not.

One benefit to be rolled out soon, will allow gay people to take time off to care for their same-sex spouse, without the risk of being sacked for it.

The Department of Labor is beginning the process of extending the benefits, as detailed in the Family and Medical Leave Act, to all same-sex couples nationwide, even in states without recognition of same-sex marriage, a White House official announced today.

The official said that following a review of benefits, the Department of Justice  found that in “almost all instances, federal benefits and obligations for same-sex married couples will be provided, regardless of where the couple lives.”

They said that there are some provisions which stop the federal government from extending specific benefits to same-sex couples in states that do not recognise equal marriage. The Democrats have introduced legislation to close these gaps, which include Social Security and Veterans benefits.

Barack Obama also this week confirmed plans to sign an Executive Order banning homophobic workplace discrimination among federal contractors.

Yesterday, the US announced sanctions against Uganda, following the implementation of a law which further criminalises homosexuality.