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Peace Corps Policy Implementing Domestic Partner Benefits
FROM: Aaron S. Williams, Director
SUBJECT: Same-Sex Domestic Partner Benefits
In June, President Obama directed the secretary of state and the director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to extend legally available benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of federal employees where doing so can be achieved consistent with federal law. The President also directed the heads of all other executive departments and agencies to conduct a review of the benefits they administer to determine which may legally be extended to same-sex partners.
Secretary Clinton recently announced that the Department of State is extending the full range of legally available benefits and allowances to same-sex domestic partners of Foreign Service employees serving overseas.
We are pleased to announce that the Peace Corps is joining the Department of State in implementing this new policy. We will be amending the Peace Corps Manual to permit same-sex domestic partners of U.S. direct hire employees serving overseas to qualify as family members for a variety of benefits and allowances under the Peace Corps Manual, including:
- Travel to and from overseas posts;
- Shipment of household effects;
- Inclusion in family size calculations for housing allocations;
- Access to medical facilities at posts overseas;
- Medical evacuation from posts overseas;
- Emergency travel for partners to visit gravely ill or injured employees and relatives;
- Inclusion as family members for emergency evacuation from posts overseas;
- Subsistence payments related to emergency evacuation from posts overseas;
- Inclusion in calculations of payments of overseas allowances; and
- Passports. Note: Visas are within the purview of the host government so there is no guarantee that visas will be issued to domestic partners. We will work with the Department of State, which has indicated that it will work with foreign governments to provide visas and authorization to work in the local economy, to same-sex domestic partners, to the extent possible.
Where appropriate, this extension of benefits and allowances will apply to the children of same-sex domestic partners, as well.
To obtain benefits for their same-sex domestic partners, employees will need to file an affidavit and update their OF-126, Residence and Dependency Report. In the affidavit, the employee affirms, among other things, that the employee and his or her domestic partner:
- Are each other’s sole domestic partner and intend to remain committed to one another indefinitely;
- Have a common residence and intend to continue the arrangement;
- Are at least 18 years of age and mentally competent to consent to contract;
- Share responsibility for a significant measure of each other’s common welfare and financial obligations;
- Are not married to, joined in civil union with, or domestic partners with anyone else; and
- Are same-sex domestic partners and not related in a way that would prohibit legal marriage in the state in which they reside.
Employees assume responsibility for their domestic partners, and domestic partners assume certain obligations, such as:
- Domestic partners are subject to Peace Corps Manual Section 611 Eligibility for Peace Corps Employment or Volunteer Service of Applicants with Intelligence Backgrounds.
- Domestic partners are held to standards of conduct in the Foreign Affairs Manual that apply to family members.
- Domestic partners must comply with the same security requirements and undergo the same background check as spouses.
- Domestic partners must have a valid medical clearance for the post of assignment. Those already at post should follow the procedures for a newly acquired dependent. They will be given access to the overseas health unit for up to 90 days pending completion of their medical clearance.
- Domestic partners must have health insurance, as the agency acts only as a secondary payer in the event of overseas hospitalization.
In addition, the Peace Corps is coordinating with OPM on its review of benefits for same-sex domestic partners in the United States.
Employees who want to apply for benefits for their same-sex domestic partners should contact Benefits Specialist Carol Edwards in the Office of Human Resource Management. We encourage overseas employees to call their regional staffing analyst or Overseas Family Liaison Eleanor Scotti-Belli with any concerns or questions regarding the addition of a domestic partner as a family member.