Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Obama Extending Family Leave to Gays

Good news for the LGBT community. Traditionally, many gays and lesbians who choose to have/adopt children have not had the option of taking long leaves from work to care for them. While the Family and Medical Leave Act — which allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually to care for loved ones or themselves, and has been applied to heterosexual adoptions — has been in place since 1993, these protections have not previously extended to gay and lesbian couples seeking to start families. Now the Obama administration is changing that, based on a new interpretation of the law.

Many members of the LGBT community have been disheartened and angered by this administration’s manner of dealing with gay issues, and hopefully this will be seen as another step in the right direction.

The Labor Department intends to issue regulations this week ordering businesses to give gay employees equal treatment under a law permitting workers unpaid time off to care for newborns or loved ones.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis planned to announce Wednesday that the government would require employers to extend the option that has been available to heterosexual workers for almost two decades, two officials briefed on the plan said Monday. Neither was authorized to speak publicly ahead of the announcement.


Currently, however, there are no plans to change the existing law, meaning that there are some limitations — and that this new policy could be reversed in the future.

Earlier this month, Obama issued orders for government agencies to extend child care services and expanded family leave to their workers. Obama’s order for federal employees, though, covers only benefits that can be extended under existing law, without congressional action. Legislative action would be required for a full range of health care and other benefits.

Last year, Obama gave federal workers’ same-sex partners a first round of benefits including visitation and dependent-care rights. He also authorized child-care services and subsidies; more flexibility to use family leave to attend to the needs of domestic partners and their children; relocation benefits; giving domestic partners the same status as family members when federal appointments are made; and access to credit union and other memberships when those are provided to federal workers.


I personally am very pleased with this overall, and hope it will make life easier for a lot of families in need. One thing that pleases especially me about this, however, is simply the timing on it — only a few short months between midterm elections. And politicians know that fighting for LGBT issues is not necessarily always an election-winner. It shows a lot of guts. And hopefully it will make the base happy.

The move, coming less than five months before November’s congressional elections, seemed likely to incite conservatives and Republicans who stood in lockstep against the Obama administration’s earlier efforts to repeal a ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. It also appeared likely to be popular with loyal Democrats and organized labor.


What say you, Moose?

(And feel free to use this as an open thread.)


  1. fogiv

    I have been led to understand the Obongo hates ‘teh gay’.  Is this not correct?

    OT: Had blast at my bro’s wedding over the weekend. Didn’t know I was supposed to give a toast (and was later chastised for not checking the carefully crafted schedule) so I didn’t have anything prepared. Had to wing it on the fly, and boy did I. I made an impression. Heh.

  2. jsfox

    but trust me I have seen more than one or two comments  on this poo pooing it as the usual not enough. I have learned to bite my tongue by reminding myself.

    For those of with our rights it is easy to accept forward movement, for those who do not have them tomorrow is a long long way off.

  3. sricki

    From Raw Story,

    ROUEN, France – A prisoner who killed his cellmate and devoured his lung with fried onions put France’s troubled prison system under critical new scrutiny Tuesday.

    Thirty-nine-year-old Nicolas Cocaign is on trial for the murder of Thierry Baudry, whom he punched, stabbed with a pair of scissors and suffocated with a rubbish bag before cutting him open with a razor blade.

    After removing a rib, Cocaign pulled out a lung, which he mistook for his victim’s heart, ate part of it raw and then fried the rest of it with onions on a makeshift stove in his cell, prosecutors say.

    And this is how I know I’m a bad person: My first thought upon reading this was, “They really need to think about instituting mandatory anatomy classes in French schools.”

  4. HappyinVT

    And, although presumably another president can come along and change it, hopefully in six years we’ll either have another Dem president or the Republican one won’t be bothered.

    I think the president knows Congress can’t/won’t take up the issue this year so he might as well git ‘er done another way.

    Lastly, I fully expected to see a freak-out at another site over the news yesterday from SecDef Gates that Obama would veto DADT legislation if it included funding for some jet engine.  None came, though.

    Really, lastly, I went on my 10k training run this morning.  I took a different route and accidentally ran 8.45 miles!  That’s the farthest I’ve ever run!  No wonder my legs are hurting.

  5. HappyinVT

    I’d like to throw out the proposition that perhaps it’s time to put the banner back to all purple.  The Iran election protests seem to have petered out; the one-year anniversary of Neda’s murder has gone largely unremarked so I’m thinking maybe it’s time.

  6. HappyinVT

    …the Administration took a major step in recognizing the need for such flexibility on Tuesday when the U.S. Department of Labor issued Administrator’s Interpretation No. 1010-3, which clarifies the definition of “son and daughter” under the FMLA. In doing, so we have expanded FMLA protections to cover loving caregivers that have traditionally been left out.

    It’s called in loco parentis, a Latin phrase and legal doctrine that may require interpretation for those of us who are not lawyers: It means “in the place of a parent.” And when applied to the new realities of work and family, it means all employees who have assumed the responsibility for parenting a child, whether they have a biological or legal relationship with the child or not, may be entitled to FMLA leave.


    It means that we’re recognizing the importance of a partner who shares in the parenting of a child in a same sex relationship, and his or her right to FMLA leave. It means that we are recognizing the importance of “Tia” (Spanish for aunt) who steps in to care for her young nephew when his mother has been called to active military duty. And it means that a grandmother who takes responsibility for her grandchild can — when needed — take unpaid time off of work to do it.

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