The same-sex partners of gay and lesbian federal workers can start applying next month for long-term health-care insurance, the Office of Personnel Management said Tuesday.
That's great, because long-term health insurance can be incredibly expensive. The more people who have quality long-term health insurance, the better.
Of course, there'll be some who say this isn't enough, and it isn't. Regular health care benefits aren't extended here, although the bill to extend those to same-sex partners has already made it through committee and is expected to make it to the floor of the Senate this month (we'll see, of course).
What's been surprising is the number of queer commentators saying how this only affects a small number of people, as if that's ever been a reason for the LGBT community not to advocate for something. Marriage only affects those LGB people in long-term relationships who choose to participate in the institution, which isn't most of us. DADT only affects those of us in the military or who plan on enlisting if it gets repealed, which really doesn't account for the swaths of people who'll never enlist discussing DADT.
Nothing's stopped us before from celebrating progress that benefits only a sector of the community, and federal workers are great people to celebrate.
Federal workers are more than "people too." One of the most badass women I know works for the post office out here. Alberto and I went to visit his postal worker cousin, whose daughter was having some problem with her credit card company. We could only hear half of the conversation, and she mentioned something about how the form couldn't have been lost in the mail, and her mother the postal worker grabbed the phone and shouted: "I'm a postal worker. A postal worker! So don't give me any bullshit about the mail!"* It was real - don't mess with a postal worker.
Especially in the US with its remote regions that otherwise wouldn't have had much contact with the outside world before the popularization of the internet (and still don't have much internet access). I had a friend in college who spent a summer working at the post office sorting mail overnight. He said it was painful, working those long hours, and the people who were there too long hated it but stayed there because it was a stable job with a decent paycheck and benefits. And LGBT postal workers deserve those same benefits.
And not just the postal workers, but the entire federal bureaucracy. Think about how many wonderful programs would come to a screeching halt if there weren't federal workers: health, food safety, tax collection (which funds The Troops' paychecks), interstate highway maintenance, telecommunication regulation, distribution of safety net programs like food stamps, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.... The list goes on and on. While Republicans have been attacking the federal bureaucracy for decades now, in hopes that they can reduce it and its services and therefore lower taxes for their patrons, federal workers do their jobs and keep this country running. Their work is nothing to laugh at.
Last, if everyone who was LGB came out and got discharged from the military today (which I completely advocate - it'd be a great way to speed up DADT repeal), the US military would still function fine. We have a military with more money than every other country's military combined, and much larger than any potential threat. We'd be fine with a five or so percent reduction in military forces.
But if everyone who was LGB in the federal bureaucracy got up and quit? If they all found better jobs with better benefits in the private sector? With all the understaffed federal bureaus there are the government would come to a screeching halt. Queer federal workers keep this country running.
So instead of the reaction being a completely-inconsistent-with-DADT-and-marriage-advocacy "This doesn't affect meeeeeeee," I'm hoping Tammy Baldwin's Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act passes this year. I'm much more likely to work for the federal government one day than I am to work for the US military.
*Je suis postière. Postière ! Donc ne me dites pas des conneries sur la Poste !
Fun stuff, the rest of us were in the next room giggling quietly.