Obama Administration Moves To Extend Federal Protections for Married Gay Couples

BTL STaff

NATIONAL - U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez announced a proposed rule to extend the protections of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include all eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages regardless of where they live.

The proposal would help ensure all families have the flexibility to handle serious medical and family situations without the threat of job loss. Following the Supreme Court's decisions in United States v. Windsor, which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the definition of "spouse" is now under consideration.

"The basic promise of the FMLA is that no one should have to choose between succeeding at work and being a loving family caregiver," said Secretary Perez. "Under the proposed revisions, the FMLA will be applied to all families equally, enabling individuals in same-sex marriages to fully exercise their rights and fulfill their responsibilities to their families."

The proposed rule would change the FMLA definition of spouse so that an eligible employee, of a covered employer, in a legal same-sex marriage will be able to take FMLA leave for their spouse or family members regardless of the state in which the employee resides. The Department of Labor is publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise the definition of spouse. The new definition will include:

"An individual in a same-sex or common law marriage that either (1) was entered into in a State that recognizes such marriages or, (2) if entered into outside of any State, is valid in the place where entered into and could have been entered into in at least one State."

"Today's announcement is another example of the Obama administration's groundbreaking work implementing our victory in the Supreme Court last year on behalf of Edie Windsor," said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. "However, significant work lies ahead, including the push to provide Social Security benefits to LGBT Americans who have been paying into the system for decades and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would ensure same-sex marriages are recognized across all federal agencies. We look forward to working with the administration and Congress to fight for full equality and recognition for all couples and turn the final page on DOMA's ugly, discriminatory chapter in our history."


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