Federal judge in Texas temporarily blocks FMLA benefits for married, same‑sex couples



AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge in Texas has blocked temporarily federal rules that would have expanded medical leave benefits to married, same-sex couples.

In a 24-page ruling filed Thursday in Wichita Falls, Texas, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor granted a preliminary injunction that stays expansion of the definition of “spouse” under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include same-sex couples.

The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. The new rule would direct state agencies to grant FMLA to all married couples, regardless of their state of residency.

The rule change to the FMLA was scheduled to take effect on Friday, March 27.

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Texas filed suit last week to block Friday’s implementation of the change. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that complying with the new regulations would have forced state agencies to either violate federal rules or a 2005 gay-marriage ban in the Texas Constitution.

Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska joined the lawsuit.

A Justice Department spokeswoman says the opinion was under review and it’s not immediately clear how many states are affected.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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