President Barack Obama on Friday will
announce a rule that makes married gay and lesbian couples eligible
for leave to care for a spouse under the Family and Medical Leave Act
(FMLA) in all 50 states.
Currently, the benefit is only
available to gay couples who live in a state which recognizes their
marriage – currently 19, plus the District of Columbia.
Under the FMLA, enacted in 1993,
employees are entitled to take unpaid, job-protected leave for family
and medical purposes. For example, an employee could take leave to
care for a spouse who has a serious health condition.
“The basic promise of the FMLA is
that no one should have to choose between succeeding at work and
being a loving family caregiver,” Secretary of Labor Thomas E.
Perez said in a statement. “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.”
Last year, the Supreme Court struck
down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which
prohibited the federal government from recognizing the marriages of
gay couples for the purpose of benefits.
A Justice Department review of how the
decision affects other federal benefits will also be released Friday.
Married gay couples living in the 31
non-equality states remain ineligible for Social Security and
veterans benefits. Change in those areas requires congressional
House to issue gay workplace protections order.)