Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Ruling Extends Family Medical Leave to LGBT Families

Under a new ruling by the U.S. Department of Labor, workers will be able to take family medical leave to care for their same-sex partners’ sick or newborn children. The new ruling allows an employee in a same-sex relationship to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period to care for the child of their partner – even if the partner has not gone through the process of adopting the child. Employees also have the opportunity to take time off for the adoption or care for a foster child, or to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child or parent) with a serious health condition along with the option to take medical leave due to a serious health condition.

Secretary Solis’ sent a clear message that all families – including LGBT families – will be afforded family medical leave when it’s needed most. She stated “No one who loves and nurtures a child day-in and day-out should be unable to care for that child when he or she falls ill.” She also spoke about the importance to have family medical leave available to all eligible workers when the child’s legal guardian is absent, incapacitated or when the state or employer refuses to recognize an employee’s relationship.

According to the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, employees are afforded 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for loved ones suffering from a serious medical condition or the arrival of a newborn child. The ruling widens employees’ rights to cover the children of lesbian, gay and bisexual workers, and it builds off of the Administration’s 2009 decision to extend family medical benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees. This year, the Obama administration continues its commitment to extend federal employment protections to lesbian, gay and bisexual employees beyond the federal government.

The new ruling helps move equality forward by ensuring that all parents can continue to provide the necessary care and support for their children. While this action is an important extension of benefits, we will continue to work with the Administration to help repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that continues to leave far too many of our families and friends legally vulnerable and unable to access all of the rights, benefits and privileges of legally recognized marriages.

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