OPM allows gay couples to receive childcare benefits

Friday - 7/29/2011, 3:04pm EDT

By Emily Kopp
Reporter
Federal News Radio

The Office of Personnel Management has proposed a rule to make childcare benefits available to all eligible federal employees, regardless of their sexual orientation.

The rule clarifies that same-sex partners and their children are family members. They can receive childcare services and subsidies, if they meet the income qualifications.

The OPM rule responds to a presidential memo issued last year that directed agencies to extend benefits to federal workers' same-sex partners.

"Although legislative action is necessary to provide full equality to LGBT federal employees, the agencies have identified a number of benefits that can be extended under existing law," said President Barack Obama in the memo.

The federal government currently provides child care subsidies to some employees, based on their income, who have children under the age of 13. Parents of disabled children may receive benefits until their child turns 18.

The OPM rule also clarifies that same-sex partners and their children are eligible to participate in the government's alcohol and drug abuse programs. In practice, however, these family members may already use the substance abuse programs because their relationships to the federal worker are deemed close enough to affect his or her job performance.

People may comment on the rule, published in Thursday's Federal Register, until August 29.

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