It truly is time that equality should be recognized everywhere in this nation! I am currently fighting for equality at the federal level because my wife has been denied health benefits under my family health plan. It is time to grant all legally married federal employees equal benefits.
I am a federal employee. I have been employed in the field of Blind Rehabilitation for ten years. I love my job because of the difference that I make as I work with people to achieve independence as they adjust to vision loss; and I am honored to work with this nation’s veterans and active duty service members.
I am also a working mom; our son was born in July, 2011. At the time that our son was born, I increased my health insurance coverage through GEHA to a family plan. I received forms requesting information on my spouse from GEHA, but when I called on August 22, 2011 to clarify some questions, I was told by the GEHA representative that my wife would not be eligible for coverage because they do not cover same-sex spouses so there was no need to submit the forms.
In February 2012, the court ruled that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. (See Golinski v. United States Office of Personnel Management) The court issued an order that therefore a federal worker, Karen Golinski’s same-sex spouse should be granted health coverage under Ms. Golinski’s health benefit coverage.
On March 9, 2012, your office sent a directive to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield association instructing them to add Karen Golinski’s wife to their family health care plan per the instructions of the court. I am requesting a similar directive be sent to GEHA.
In light of that court case I sent a letter requesting that my wife should be granted health benefits under my family plan through GEHA. My wife and I were legally married in the state of California on October 18, 2008, and as my spouse she should be able to have coverage under my family plan. On May 23, 2012 I received a response from GEHA stating that my wife is still being denied coverage under my family plan.
Currently I am supporting my family on a single income so that my wife can stay at home with our eleven month old son because the cost of daycare at $1600 per month would have been about the same as my wife’s paycheck. The denial of health coverage for same-sex spouses is a discriminatory policy that is directly hurting my family because currently I am paying more than double my health insurance costs as a single person just to add our son to the family plan, and as of January 1, 2012 I am also paying an additional $600 per month to pay for COBRA coverage for my wife. We tried to find independent health insurance to cover her, but she was denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Add rent, utilities, medical bills, groceries, diapers and other necessities for our baby, car insurance/maintenance, gas for my commute to work, student loan that I am still paying off, etc., and we are now living paycheck to paycheck to try and keep up with bills that come in.
Please grant the right to equal benefits for all federal employees in legal marriages! How can it be justified to grant that right to millions of heterosexual couples, to one person in a same-sex marriage (Karen Golinski and her spouse) and deny that same right to all other families?