capitolThe Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (DPBOA) of 2011, proposed legislation that would override the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), is projected to cost the federal government approximately $144 million over the next ten years should it be passed into law. The announcement by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) should work to quell fears that the enactment of the Act would significantly impact governmental costs throughout the next decade. The DPBOA would not override the definition of marriage as defined in the DOMA for tax and social security purposes

The DPBOA would give federal employees in same-sex partnerships the same access to health insurance, survivor annuities, and other benefits already offered to married couples. The bill is currently awaiting a vote by the Senate and was referred to the House of Representatives for a vote in November 2011. The federal government’s total benefits cost would probably raise beginning next year should the bill become law.

Additionally, the proposed law would provide domestic partners of federal workers to participate in employee retirement and disability plans, FMLA, life and long-term care insurance plans, workers comp, death and disability benefits, and relocation reimbursements. The CBO estimates that approximately 1 percent of federal workers (about 300 employees) would initially register a same-sex partnership. The CBO expects 60 percent of eligible employees to switch to a family health care plan while 85 percent would grant survivor benefits to a domestic partner.

Coincidentally, the report was released only days before the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to decide on a collection of constitutional challenges to the current DOMA law that limits employee benefits to same-sex partnerships and those same-sex couples legally married. Through its recognition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, DOMA prohibits same-sex couples from filing joint federal tax returns or collecting social security after the death of their partner/spouse. Federal same-sex couples are also not allowed to enroll government-provided family health plans.

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