WASHINGTON -- Less than a week after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, Senate staffers in same-sex marriages have been told they can extend their federal benefits to spouses and stepchildren.
Thousands of Senate staffers got an email Tuesday from the Office of Personnel Management notifying them what happens now that the high court ruled that legally married couples can't be denied federal benefits. Same-sex marriage is legal in Washington, so there's likely a fair number of Capitol Hill staffers who will, for the first time, be able to extend benefits to their families.
"On June 26, 2013 the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional," reads the email, provided to The Huffington Post by a Senate staffer. "Therefore, numerous Federal Employee Benefits may now be extended to legally married same-sex spouses and (step)children."
A number of House aides told The Huffington Post they hadn't received a similar email.
UPDATE: July 3 -- Joshua Crosson, the policy director for the House LGBT Congressional Staff Association, told HuffPost the House is responding to the DOMA ruling differently than the Senate. While the Senate is using OPM’s guidance as a framework for extending benefits, the House Payroll and Benefits office is working with the House Administrations Committee and OPM to issue "more tailored guidance," said Crosson.
The House hasn't issued any guidance to House staffers yet, "but it sounds like it’s coming soon," he added.
A Wednesday email to House Democratic chiefs of staff and staff directors from an aide on the House Administration Committee said to expect more information early next week.
Here's a copy of the full email to Senate staffers:
From: PAY&BENEFITS (Disbursing)
Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2013 02:33 PM
Subject: Extension of Federal Beneftis to Legally Married Same-Sex Spouses and their Families
This is a MASS email to Senate Staff. Please DO NOT reply. The mailbox is not monitored.
On June 26, 2013 the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Therefore, numerous Federal Employee Benefits may now be extended to legally married same-sex spouses and (step)children.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is giving Federal Employees in legal Same-Sex Marriages until August 26, 2013 to update their federal benefits and same-sex spouses of federal employees to apply for Long Term Care Insurance coverage with Abbreviated Underwriting.
Please see the Memorandum From OPM providing Guidance on the Extension of these Benefits and a more detailed explanation.
To make a change to:
Health and Life Insurance
Make changes with the Disbursing Office
Dental and Vision Insurance
Make changes directly with FEDVIP
www.benefeds.com (877) 888-3337
Long Term Care Insurance
Enroll directly with LTCFEDS
www.ltcfeds.com (800) 582-3337
Flexible Spending Accounts
Make changes directly with FSAFEDS
www.fsafeds.com (877) 372-3337
Please also note that OPM states “additional guidance regarding these and other benefits will be coming soon.”
The Disbursing Office will update Senate Staff as new guidance is issued.
If you have any questions, please call the Employee Benefits Section at (202) 224-1093.