The House bill could, in theory, do something else important for the community. It gives the Secretary of HHS, through the new Commissioner, the power to make committed same-sex couples a family, in a purely limited legal sense. According to the bill it defines a family as:
FAMILY- The term `family' means an individual and includes the individual's dependents.
And it defines a dependent as:
DEPENDENT- The term `dependent' has the meaning given such term by the Commissioner and includes a spouse.
That gives the Commissioner a lot of latitude to define the term "family." At least in matters related to health care reform and the new health insurance exchange, the Commissioner should have the legal authority to classify same sex partnerships as a family.