U.S. taxpayers have now learned that footing the bill to pay for federal benefits to same-sex couples will cost them at least $898 million over the next nine years, according to an analysis from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
The CBO’s December 17 cost analysis on the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009 (H.R. 2517) revealed that extending health and employment benefits to the domestic partners of homosexual federal employees – both active and retired – would lead to direct spending increase of $596 million and discretionary spending would also jump $302 million over the next nine years (2019).
The CBO estimates that the biggest cost would come from extending the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program to homosexual couples, describing it as “the largest increase in both mandatory and discretionary spending-$590 million and $266 million, respectively.”
Under H.R. 2517, the federal government would make the partners of its homosexual employees eligible to receive the same employment benefits as the married spouses of other federal employees. The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) an open homosexual, and besides health insurance, the measure would provide same-sex partners survivor annuities, compensation for work-related injuries, and travel and relocation benefits.
Advocates for homosexual partners to receive federal benefits have argued that denying benefits would be a case of unjust and even arbitrary discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity. However, opponents contend those charges miss the mark as married persons in general are involved in begetting and raising children, while the same does not apply to homosexual couples in general. Instead, they say, the point and purpose of those benefits should be to assist a married employee financially in the growth and maintenance of his dependent family, where many times the spouse rearing the children may have partial or total dependence upon him as a breadwinner.
The CBO expects the addition of 5,200 extra family coverage policies added to the FEHB program “by current and future non-Postal Service retirees choosing to cover same-sex domestic partners.” This alone, the government agency reports, would increase direct spending by $348 million from 2011 to 2019.
Also, 2,000 Postal Service employees would move from individual to family coverage to include their homosexual domestic partners, and 1,100 current and future Postal Service retirees would also follow suit.
The CBO says that enacting H.R. 2517 “would not have any direct impact on federal revenues.” In addition, the measure “contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.”
H.R. 2517 still awaits votes in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. President Barack Obama has indicated his support for legislation extending benefits to homosexual partners and would likely sign the measure into law if passed by Congress.