Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on
Wednesday sued the U.S. Department of Labor over a proposal to extend
family leave benefits to married gay couples.
The proposal, scheduled to take effect
next Friday, alters the federal definition of “spouse” in the
Family Medical Leave Act to include the legal husband or wife of a
gay worker. Under the law, employers must allow unpaid time off for
employees facing certain family emergencies.
Texas, as an employer, would be
directed to grant such benefits to married gay couples.
In 2005, Texas voters approved an
amendment to the state constitution which defines marriage solely as
a heterosexual union and does not recognize the out-of-state
marriages of gay couples.
“This lawsuit is about defending the
sovereignty of our state, and we will continue to protect Texas from
the unlawful overreach of the federal government,” Paxton said.
“Texans have clearly defined the
institution of marriage in our state, and attempts by the Obama
administration to disregard the will of our citizens through the use
of new federal rules is unconstitutional and an affront to the
foundations of federalism,” he added.
Last year, a federal judge struck down
Texas' restrictive marriage ban. The case is currently before an
Neel Lane, an attorney who is
representing plaintiffs in the case, called the lawsuit “politically
motivated” and “doomed to fail.”
“In this case, Paxton is persecuting
law-abiding citizens who simply happen to be gay or lesbian,” Lane
Dallas Morning News.