A bill which proposes expanded federal healthcare discriminates against gay couples, the leader of a Republican gay group has said.

Jimmy LaSalvia, the executive director of GOProud, a conservative Republican group, argues that due to the Defence of Marriage Act, families headed by a same-sex couple will actually be left worse off.

The Defence of Marriage Act bans federal recognition of gay relationships and bars such couples from accessing federal benefits.

Writing in The Hill, LaSalvia argued: “The left’s demand for government-run healthcare, the so-called ‘public option,’ will leave gay and lesbian families completely and totally out.

“Gays, who currently are able to secure health insurance that provides for domestic partner benefits for their families, will find no such options when it comes to government-run healthcare. Worst, low-income gay and lesbian families, who can’t afford private insurance and will be forced by federal mandate into government-run healthcare, will be hit the hardest.”

He added: “The last place gay and lesbian Americans should look for equitable treatment is the federal government. Whether its relationship recognition, military service, tax fairness, or any of dozens of other issues, the federal government discriminates against gay and lesbian Americans. Why would it be any different when it comes to healthcare?”