The White House is rolling out a slew of reforms today that will extend to same-sex married couples many of the federal benefits long reserved for straight couples. And in "almost all instances," the couples will get those benefits whether the state they live in recognizes same-sex marriage or not, an official tells the New York Times. The changes include:
- The IRS will now recognize same-sex couples
- Immigration law will treat same-sex couples the same as heterosexual ones
- Same-sex spouses of federal employees will get health and life insurance
- Employees of private firms will be able to take leave to tend to same-sex spouses under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
But the rights train will miss a couple stops; couples in states that don't recognize same-sex marriage still won't be eligible for Social Security or veterans benefits, the Washington Post reports. Those programs are governed by state law, though the White House will today call on Congress to pass laws changing that. It's been a momentous week for gay rights. News came on Monday that Obama will sign an executive order banning discrimination against some gay people, and yesterday the Presbyterian Church's top legislative body voted overwhelmingly in favor of redefining marriage in the church's constitution as between "two people," rather than between "a man and a woman," NBC News reports. It also voted to allow ministers to perform same-sex ceremonies in states where it is legal. (Read more same-sex marriage stories.)