On June 17, President Obama announced that he would extend benefits of Federal employees to same sex couples, taking a small step towards workplace equality. Specifically, Federal employees will now be able to add their same sex partners to their long term insurance policies, and can use sick days to take care of their partners and non-biological children. We applaud this decision.
While it is a small gesture, it marks a step in the right direction for inclusion of gay couples in deciding benefits, as well as advancing the equality and protection of the rights of gay workers. Currently, there is no Federal statue that prohibits individuals being discriminated against because they are gay, leaving these people vulnerable to mistreatment and persecution.
Under the Obama administration, we could hope to look forward to more of these acts that will span the gap between gays and non-gays in the workplace. While minor, it could be a sign of a major sea change in employment law, eventually leading to the much contested “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy discriminating against homosexuals in the military.