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Obama expands benefits to gay partners

WASHINGTON (BP)–President Obama extended more benefits Wednesday to the same-sex partners of federal employees.

Adding to privileges he bestowed on partners of homosexual federal workers last June, Obama included the following benefits among those he ordered to be granted by executive agencies:

— Designation of same-sex partners and their children as “family members” in assistance programs;

— Payments for travel and relocation;

— Access to credit unions, fitness centers and counseling services.

The president also instructed all agencies that extend new benefits to spouses of heterosexual employees to provide those same rights to same-sex partners of federal workers.

The new memorandum was another in a series of White House actions supporting homosexual causes. Recently, Obama proclaimed June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. He also endorsed legislation to overturn the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law before the Pentagon does a review of the policy. That law bars homosexuals from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Forces.

In a statement accompanying his latest memorandum, the president expressed regret his administration could not do more for homosexual employees and their same-sex partners. The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act prevents the federal government from recognizing “gay marriage” and has been used to prevent the government from granting same-sex couples full marriage benefits, such as health insurance. The ’96 law also gives states the option of not recognizing “gay marriages” from another state.

In his statement Obama reiterated his support for the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act. That bill, which has gained approval from committees in both houses of Congress but awaits floor votes in those chambers, would extend benefits now reserved for the spouses of federal employees to the same-sex partners of such workers. Those privileges would include health insurance, as well as retirement and disability benefits.

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has expressed opposition to the legislation. Its president, Richard Land, has said the bill would “force taxpayers to fund relationships to which millions object based on deeply held religious convictions.”

Obama’s memorandums could be overturned in another administration, but a federal law would be more difficult to repeal.

Last year’s memorandum from Obama provided such benefits as long-term-care insurance. His June 17, 2009, directive also called for federal agency heads to work with the Office of Personnel Management to identify other benefits that could be extended to homosexual employees and their partners.

A week later, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Louisville, Ky., adopted a resolution that expressed opposition to a variety of federal policy proposals normalizing homosexuality.

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