Senate panel approves same-sex benefits

May 16, 2012 at 5:17 PM

WASHINGTON, May 16 (UPI) -- A bill that would extend benefits to the same-sex partners of U.S. government workers passed a U.S. Senate committee Wednesday on a voice vote.

The measure sponsored by senators Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Lieberman, Ind-Conn., received no opposition on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, The Washington Post reported. Lieberman chairs the committee, while Collins is the senior Republican.

Both Collins and Lieberman said the bill allows the government to compete with the private sector for top employees and ensures fair treatment for those in same-sex relationships. They said it has nothing to do with same-sex marriage.

"We are not blazing new trails here," Lieberman said. "Today, almost 10,000 private-sector companies of all sizes provide benefits to domestic partners and that includes 60 percent of all Fortune 500 companies. ... The same is true for the governments of 24 states -- including my home state of Connecticut -- and about 154 local jurisdictions, and 300 colleges and universities."

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