Obama budget would open government health plans to same-sex couples

The FEHB currently offers only "self" and "family" plans, but the federal Defense of Marriage Act prohibits same-sex couples from being considered a family.

Obama proposed adding a new "self plus one" option for FEHBP plans, which would allow same-sex couples to share a policy without violating the federal ban on same-sex benefits.

"Same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees would be among those eligible to receive coverage under this new option," the White House said in a fact sheet. "This proposal would align the FEHB program with best practices in the private sector as larger employers competing for talent are increasingly offering domestic partner benefits."

No budget proposal, including the president's, ever becomes law, so the proposal to expand same-sex benefits is mostly a statement of principles.

The issue could become moot in a few months, if the Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. Such a ruling appeared to be a strong possibility following oral arguments over the law last month.