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Obama administration to expand family, medical leave benefits to same-sex parents

Obama administration to expand family, medical leave benefits to same-sex parents

President Obama is taking another step to expand the rights of gay workers by allowing them to take family and medical leave to care for sick or newborn children of same-sex partners, administration officials annoiunced Monday.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is scheduled to make the announcement on Wednesday that will require employers to allow gay employees the same unpaid time off for family or personal matters that’s been given to heterosexual workers for almost 20 years.

The new regulations will require businesses of 50 or more employees to abide by an expanded interpretation of the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period for employees to care for family members with medical needs, including childbirth. This expansion applies only to caring for children.

Earlier this month, Obama ordered government agencies to extend child care services and expanded family leave to federal 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.

In April, Mr. Obama announced plans to grant hospital visiting rights to same-sex partners, and the Justice Department concluded that the Violence Against Women Act protects same-sex partners.

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