Rolling Out

President Obama expands government benefits for gay couples

President Barack Obama - Second Inauguration Address

All last week, President Obama worked tirelessly to improve LGBT rights by pushing Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and by extending family and medical leave benefits to married gay couples. Now, a new report reveals that President Obama finished up the week by expanding a host of government benefits to cover same-sex couples regardless of whether their state recognizes same-sex marriage.

According to the Huffington Post, on Friday, the Obama administration enacted changes ranging from Social Security to veterans benefits. And although more than half of the 50 states still don’t recognize same-sex marriages and many of their laws deny same-sex couples marriage benefits, the new benefits allow same-sex couples across the board to bypass that issue.

For instance, the Veterans Affairs Department will soon start letting any gay person who tells them they’re married to a veteran to be buried next to them in a national cemetery, allowing the couples to circumvent the usual marriage requirements.

Like the VAD, the Social Security Administration will start processing some survivor and death benefits for those in same-sex relationships who live in states that don’t recognize gay marriage.

The Labor Department also assured that they were following through on Obama’s recent order and would begin drafting rules to ensure that the Family and Medical Leave Act applies to same-sex couples.

We commend the Obama administration on further pushing for greater benefits for LGBT people and we hope that Congress, which has been slow to pass pro-gay legislation follows suit and pass ENDA as well as legislation that would improve government benefits for same-sex couples. – nicholas robinson

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