The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration will not extend federal-worker benefits to domestic partners under the recent Supreme Court ruling that repealed part of the Defense of Marriage Act, meaning the government will treat civil unions differently than legal same-sex marriages.
And so, couples who are not legally married “will remain ineligible for most federal benefits programs.” However, any existing benefits provided to domestic partners will remain intact, OPM said.
That being said, same sex couples living anywhere in the U.S. will qualify for federal-employee benefits as long as they hold marriage licenses from any of the 13 states that recognize same-sex marriage, as well as from the District of Columbia, which has also legalized such unions.
Sounds like bad news for folks with civil unions, but there’s a bright side.
Civil unions were created as the “separate but equal” answer to same-sex marriage after the passage of DOMA. Since civil unions don’t hold federal status, clearly they don’t come close to “equal.” Such inequality could help four states (Hawaii, Colorado, Illinois and New Jersey which currently offer civil unions) move towards marriage equality.
For example, in New Jersey, the state Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples deserve complete equality, so civil unions offered there are now a violation of the state’s constitution.