A federal judge in Texas has
temporarily blocked implementation of a plan to extend family leave
benefits to married gay couples.
U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor
granted the preliminary junction sought by Texas Attorney General Ken
Paxton (pictured) that stays expansion of the federal definition of
“spouse” in the Family Medical Leave Act to include the legal
husband or wife of a gay worker.
The change was set to take effect
Under the law, employers must allow
unpaid time off for employees facing certain family emergencies.
Paxton argued that the new regulation
would force state agencies to violate Texas' 2005 voter-approved
constitutional amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual union.
“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 in
filing the lawsuit.
“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.
Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska joined
“No legally married same-sex couple
should be denied family leave simply because they happen to live in a
state that fails to respect their marriage,” HRC Legal Director
Sarah Warbelow said in a statement. “Because of Judge O’Connor’s
decision, countless legally married same-sex couples in Texas are now
unable to access their federal FMLA benefits. With a pending Supreme
Court decision on nationwide marriage equality this summer, we are
confident that justice will ultimately prevail.”
Last year, a federal judge struck down
Texas' restrictive marriage ban. The case is currently before an