U.S. Department of Labor Regulations Allow Gay Workers to Take Family Leave
The US Department of Labor updated regulations of the Family and Medical Leave Act yesterday so that lesbian and gay employees are now able to take unpaid family and medical leave to care for newborn or sick children. The updated regulations clarify the definition of son or daughter, stating that "an employee who assumes the role of caring for a child receives parental rights to family leave regardless of the legal or biological relationship," according to a Department of Labor press release.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employees who work for a company of 50 or more people to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn, spouse, or sick child, according to the New York Times. Previously, FMLA privileges only extended to heterosexual couples.
Jennifer W. Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council, explained the new benefits to the New York Times as, "if you act like a parent, do the work of a parent and raise a child like a parent, then you are a parent for the purpose of the Family and Medical Leave Act." Currently, it is estimated that one million LGBT families are raising two million children.
According to the Associated Press, future presidents could overturn the changes in FMLA, because Congress did not formally amend the law.
While the Obama Administration has taken some action to further LGBT rights, gay activists have been "frustrated with Obama's approach to gay policies," reported the Associated Press. Activists criticize Obama for being slow paced in making minor incremental changes, instead of making more sweeping, comprehensive changes. Earlier this month, President Obama signed a presidential memorandum that extends the benefits available to same-sex partners of federal workers. Obama has also verbally supported the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Media Resources: U.S. Department of Labor Press Release 6/22/10; Associated Press 6/22/10; New York Times 6/21/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 6/3/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/25/10