Maloney cheers new FMLA same-sex couple rule

Jun 20, 2014
Press Release

Press Contact: Mike Morosi (202) 225-7944

New rule mirrors Maloney’s Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act to ensure FMLA protections for same-sex couples

WASHINGTON -- Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) today applauded the proposed Department of Labor rule to extend Family and Medical Leave Act protections to married same-sex couples. The move achieves most of the goals contained within the Congresswoman’s Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act (H.R 1751), which she has been working to pass since 2003. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced companion legislation in the Senate. The FMLA allows qualified workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for newborns, seek emergency medical care for himself/herself, parents, children under 18, or a legal spouse. The new rules proposed today would extend those protections to married same-sex couples.

“This is monumental,” said Maloney. “As someone who has been fighting for over a decade to ensure that same-sex couples enjoy the same FMLA leave rights as anyone else, I am thrilled that the Obama Administration is taking action. Finally, all married couples, regardless of whether their home state recognizes same-sex marriages, will have access to family and medical leave. This is another win in the battle for equality and a win for hard-working Americans who have suffered a personal or a loved one’s health-related setback but haven’t been entitled to take time off, until now.”

First introduced in 2003, the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act (HR 1751 in the 113th Congress) authored by Congresswoman Maloney and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) amends the FMLA to permit leave to care for a domestic partner, same-sex spouse, parent-in-law, adult child, sibling, or grandparent if that person has a serious health condition.

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a proposed rule extending the protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act to all eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages regardless of where they live. The proposal would help ensure that all families will have the flexibility to deal with serious medical and family situations without fearing the threat of job loss.  The Department is proposing this rule following the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act provision that interpreted “marriage” and “spouse” to be limited to opposite-sex marriage for the purposes of federal law.  Following the Windsor decision, President Obama directed the Attorney General to work with the Cabinet to review federal statutes to ensure the decision, including its implications for federal benefits and obligations, is implemented.

The proposed rule would change the FMLA regulatory definition of “spouse” so that an eligible employee in a legal same-sex marriage will be able to take FMLA leave for his or her spouse or family member regardless of the state in which the employee resides. Currently, the regulatory definition of “spouse” only applies to same-sex spouses who reside in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage. Under the proposed rule, eligibility for FMLA protections would be based on the law of the place where the marriage was entered into, allowing all legally married couples, whether opposite-sex or same-sex, to have consistent federal family leave rights regardless whether the state in which they currently reside recognizes such marriages.