Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Lieberman said Monday that he will work to secure congressional passage of a bill that would extend benefits to partners of gay federal employees. The legislation would give domestic partners the same benefits available to spouses of federal employees, including life and health insurance, retirement pay, and compensation for on-the-job injuries. Domestic partners could be gay or straight, as long as they file an affidavit saying they are living together in a committed, intimate relationship but are not married. The legislation was introduced last year by Minnesota's Democratic U.S. senators, Mark Dayton and Paul Wellstone. Wellstone died last fall in a plane crash. Lieberman, Connecticut's junior senator, said he will pick up where Wellstone left off in pressing for the bill.
The measure must be reintroduced in this session of Congress. It will be referred to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, where Lieberman is the ranking Democrat, and it faces long odds in the Republican-controlled Congress. "If it doesn't get done in the next two years, I intend to introduce and sign it as president of the United States," Lieberman said in a speech to the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.