President Obama’s effort to undermine marriage as the union of one man and one woman advanced as an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulation took effect earlier this month. Under the new rules, Uncle Sam will provide long-term care insurance to the “domestic partners” of all federal employees as if they were partners in true wedlock.
Prior to July 1, only the actual relatives of bureaucrats - a spouse, adult child or parent - qualified for the long-term insurance coverage designed to pay the bills of nursing home care for the elderly and for stays in an assisted-living facility for the victim of a debilitating illness. Generally, the federal plan is meant for older enrollees with an average age of 56.
Now the administration has extended coverage to any same-sex roommate willing to sign a “declaration of domestic partnership” form. No documentation is required beyond a signature to enjoy benefits that, according to the Government Accountability Office, are 46 percent cheaper than comparable plans offered in the private sector.
Mr. Obama ordered the policy change in June 2009 when he instructed all relevant federal agencies to identify benefits that could be offered to homosexuals that live together. The president’s memorandum on the subject represented a blatant effort to evade the Defense of Marriage Act. This law, enacted in 1996, prohibits federal regulations from referring to marriage as anything other than the “union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” and a spouse as anything other than “a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”
OPM disregarded the clear intent of the law by establishing a new term, “domestic partner,” granting to it all the same rights and privileges that had previously applied to a spouse. Although Mr. Obama defended this tricky approach to the law as necessary in the name of “nondiscrimination,” his goal has never been equal treatment for homosexuals. If it were, domestic-partner benefits would also apply to heterosexual couples living together outside of marriage. This is not the case, as the new regulation explains that “opposite-sex domestic partners were not included because they may obtain eligibility to apply for Federal long term care insurance through marriage, an option not currently available to same-sex domestic partners.”
In May, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that a similar proposal to extend federal health benefits to homosexual partners would cost taxpayers an additional $400 million over 10 years, or $600 million if the benefits applied to current retirees. These figures assumed that one-third of 1 percent of federal employees would register as domestic partners. That estimate was based on the number of homosexuals who have signed up for equivalent offerings at the state and local government level.
If accurate, it would mean the White House is actively attacking the foundations of the traditional family to cater to a handful of extremists. Instead of finding yet more beneficiaries for federal largesse, the Obama administration ought to devote its attention to reining in the reckless spending that has burdened all families with a $13.3 trillion debt.