So many awesome things are going on with the United States this week. With the ruling of Prop 8 and DOMA, the way has been paved for the United States government to start actually treating marriages between same-sex couples equally. The Office of Personal Management sent out a memo announcing new eligibility for many of the benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy, including Life, Dental/Vision and Health insurance, Retirement, and Flexible Spending Accounts.
Here’s an excerpt from the memo:
Health Insurance (FEHB): All legally married same-sex spouses will now be eligible family members under a Self and Family enrollment. In addition, the children of same-sex marriages will be treated just as those of opposite-sex marriages and will be eligible family members according to the same eligibility guidelines. This includes coverage for children of same-sex spouses as stepchildren. Employees and annuitants will have 60 days from June 26, 2013 until August 26, 2013, to make immediate changes to their FEHB enrollment. Enrollees will continue to be eligible to make changes to their coverage options during Open Season later this year. For those employees and annuitants who already have a Self and Family insurance plan, coverage for their same-sex spouse will begin immediately upon their notifying their FEHB carrier that there is a newly eligible family member. For those employees and annuitants electing Self and Family for the first time, benefits will be effective on the first day of the first pay period after the enrollment request is received. While online enrollment systems are updated, it may be necessary for employees and annuitants to update their elections using the paper (rather than electronic) version of the SF2809 form.
Life Insurance (FEGLI): All legally married same-sex spouses and children of legal same-sex marriages are now eligible family members under the FEGLI Program, which means that employees may add coverage for a same-sex spouse and any newly eligible children under Option C. Employees will have 60 days from June 26, 2013 until August 26, 2013, to make changes to their FEGLI enrollment.
As BuzzFeed notes, the memorandum says the changes apply to “all legally married same-sex spouses,” and that includes same-sex couples who are legally wed in one state, but currently live in a state that does not recognize their marriage. Or as Thomas Richards, OPM director of communications, told BuzzFeed, “Yes, these benefits will be available to any Federal employee or annuitant who has a valid marriage license, regardless of their State of residency.”
Of course this is just a start of the benefits that same-sex couples have the right to, and President Obama acknowledge that in his response to the good news.
“This is a critical first step toward implementing this week’s landmark Supreme Court decision declaring that all married couples — gay and straight — should be treated equally under federal law. Thousands of gays and lesbians serve our country every day in the federal government. They, and their spouses and children, deserve the same respect and protection as every other family. Under the leadership of Attorney General Holder, we will continue to move as quickly as possible to fully implement the Court’s decision.”
It is a first step, however it’s good to know we have the foundation to build every other step needed.