Health Insurance Benefits for Same-Sex Partners
Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a two-part series on the controversy surrounding health insurance for same-sex marriage partners. You can find part 1 here.
Let’s assume that the Defense of Marriage Act (DMA) eventually gets repealed. States that don’t support gay marriage aren’t allowed to deny that other states do? Would this then open up the forum for the Federal Government to acknowledge same-sex marriages? It seems that for Obama to agree with what this appeals court in California is bringing up, the Defense of Marriage Act would have to be repealed. We’re talking about health benefits for federal employees and their partners — and it seems that same-sex partners of federal employees won’t be seeing health benefits any time soon unless the DMA is axed.
Same-Sex Marriage and Health Insurance
This current scenario brings up an interesting thing to ponder. It is still illegal for same-sex couples to get married except in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and same-sex marriage still is not recognized by the federal government even if you were married in one of those two states. In some states and jurisdictions, however, same-sex couples have rights of a domestic partnership or common law marriage, and this entitles them to share benefits with one another regardless of being legally married.
Now, let’s say there is a hypothetical situation in which a same-sex couple lives in a state in which they have a state recognized marriage, or even just a domestic partnership. If one of them works for a company that allows one partner to share their benefits with another, they can because of the recognized status of their relationship. Now, let’s say that the couple lives in the same state but they work directly for the federal government. Although the couple can share all other benefits because of what state law dictates, they cannot share the federal employee’s insurance through FEHBP.
How Can Same-Sex Partners Obtain Health Coverage?
I can only imagine what a conundrum this is for couples struggling against this kind of system. Hate and inequality in this country still blatantly exists today, and it is very prevalent when you look at what rights are denied to same-sex couples. It might be tempting for an employee of the Federal Government to want to hightail it out of a job in which they were being discriminated against in this way. Unfortunately, times are incredibly shaky, and you won’t find many people out there, gay or straight, quitting their jobs right now, because it isn’t likely that another one is going to come along easily. I hate thinking that people are having to push aside their dignity and what they believe in because it’s too risky to walk away from an employment situation.
In situations like these, where one partner in a relationship can’t share benefits with their loved one, the person without insurance might do well looking into an individual insurance policy. It’s nowhere the ideal situation in which everyone regardless of color, creed or sexual orientation has equal rights to all things, but it is a way to protect yourself when your partner can’t.