Summersgill: DHR rulemaking omits DPs from other jurisdictions
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Summersgill: DHR rulemaking omits DPs from other jurisdictions

From:Bob Summersgill
Sent:Monday, May 11, 2009 4:25 PM
To:Mary Cheh; David Catania; Kwame Brown; Tommy Thomas; Tommy Wells
Cc:Rick Rosendall; Mitchell Wood; Jeffrey Richardson; Tim Mahony; Michael Crawford
Subject:Re: Comments on the Proposed Rulemaking on Chapter 29, Section 2129 “Optional Health Benefits Coverage for Domestic Partners”

Councilmember Cheh:

On Friday, May 8, the D.C. Department of Human Resources published the final rulemaking on Chapter 29, Section 2129 “Optional Health Benefits Coverage for Domestic Partners” in the D.C. Register, pages 3682-3684. Unfortunately, the notice states that they did not receive any comments on the proposed rulemaking. I did submit the letter below, but apparently it was not received or considered.

The final rulemaking ignores the recognition of domestic partners from other jurisdictions in the Omnibus Domestic Partnership Equality Amendment Act of 2008, and more recently as clarified in the “Domestic Partnership Judicial Determination of Parentage Act of 2009.”

It is unreasonable to ask couples who are recognized as domestic partners in the District to have to re-register in order to receive health care benefits as employees of the District Government. This is clearly not what the Council intended or the law requires. This is analogous to being married. If a couple marries in Maryland, they do not need to remarry in D.C. to receive employee benefits.

Please either ask the Department of Human Resources to amend the rulemaking to comply with the law, or introduce legislation to correct the regulations.

Thank you for attention to this issue.

Sincerely,

Bob Summersgill
Washington, DC


From:Bob Summersgill
Sent:Tuesday, February 24, 2009 2:32:44 PM
To:Mary Cheh
Cc:David Catania; Kwame Brown; Tommy Thomas; Tommy Wells; Christopher Dyer
Subject:Comments on the Proposed Rulemaking on Chapter 29, Section 2129 “Optional Health Benefits Coverage for Domestic Partners”

Councilmember Cheh:

Below are comments on the Proposed Rulemaking on Chapter 29, Section 2129 “Optional Health Benefits Coverage for Domestic Partners,” that I have sent to Brender Gregory. It is my understanding that the rulemaking must be approved by the Council, so I request that you ensure that recognition of domestic partnerships, civil unions, and same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions will be included in the regulations, consistent with the Omnibus Domestic Partnership Equality Amendment Act of 2008.

Thank you very much for your attention to this issue.

-Bob Summersgill


February 24, 2009

Brender L. Gregory
Director
D.C. Department of Human Resources
441 4th Street, N.W., Suite 300S
Washington, D.C. 20001

Ms. Gregory:

Please accept this letter as comments on the Proposed Rulemaking on Chapter 29, Section 2129 “Optional Health Benefits Coverage for Domestic Partners,” published in the February 20, 2009 D.C. Register.

The new proposed rule section 2129.4(b) overlooks the change to the law in the Omnibus Domestic Partnership Equality Amendment Act of 2008, Law 17-231, which took effect on September 12, 2008.

The new section of D.C. Code created under that Act reads:

§32-702(i) Relationships established in accordance with the laws of other jurisdictions that are substantially similar to domestic partnerships established by this chapter, as certified by the Mayor, shall be recognized as domestic partnerships in the District.

Although the Mayor has thus far failed to certify any law of any jurisdiction for recognition as a domestic partnership, §32-702(i) should be the law guiding regulations on recognizing relationships registered in other jurisdictions.

Proposed rule section 2129.4(b) essentially dismisses the possibility of recognizing another jurisdiction’s domestic partnership law for health benefits coverage by requiring couples to register as domestic partnerships in D.C.  

2129.4 (b) An eligible employee in a domestic partnership registered in a jurisdiction other than the District of Columbia shall register the domestic partnership with the D.C. Department of Health prior to enrolling his or her domestic partner and any dependents for health benefits coverage pursuant to this section.

The intent of the Council in creating D.C. Code §32-702(i) was to allow recognition of domestic partnerships, civil unions, and same-sex marriages of other jurisdictions as equivalent in all respects to our own, as if they had registered in the District. If such a relationship is “recognized as domestic partnerships in the District” there should not be any need to re-register it. We recognize marriages performed in other states or countries without requiring the couple to marry again in the District in order to gain health benefits. The same principle applies here.

Until the Mayor does certify another jurisdiction’s partnership law, couples will need to register with the Department of Health for health benefits. However the regulations should take into consideration that the law provides for another possibility and accommodate it. The Mayor may act at any time.

Section 2129.4 might be rewritten as:

(a) An employee newly registered in a domestic partnership is eligible to enroll his or her domestic partner and any eligible dependents in the DCEHB Program within thirty-one days of the date the domestic partnership registration is issued by the D.C. Department of Health or by a jurisdiction other than the District of Columbia that has been certified by the Mayor pursuant to D.C. Official Code §32-702(i).

(b) An eligible employee in a domestic partnership registered in a jurisdiction other than the District of Columbia that has not been certified by the Mayor pursuant to D.C. Official Code §32-702(i) shall register the domestic partnership with the D.C. Department of Health prior to enrolling his or her domestic partner and any dependents for health benefits coverage pursuant to this section.

This change may also require a change in section 2129.3(a) which does not allow for a non-D.C. domestic partnership.

(a) Have a valid certificate of domestic partnership issued by the D.C. Department of Health or by a jurisdiction other than the District of Columbia that has been certified by the Mayor pursuant to D.C. Official Code §32-702(i); and

I appreciate the time and energy that has gone into drafting these proposed regulations, and I hope that you will be able to make the changes that I described here.

Thank you.

Bob Summersgill
Washington, DC

cc: Members of the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment, Council of the District of Columbia
Christopher Dyer, Director of the Office of GLBT Affairs


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