Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Obama tosses us another crumb: FMLA will now cover Gay and Lesbian Parents

The White House is expected to announce changes to the Family Medical Leave Act, the 1993 law that allows workers to take time off to care for family members due to illness or the arrival of a new baby. The New York Times is reporting that the new change would allow gay and lesbian parents to take time off to care for a sick child, regardless of whether they are the biological parent or have any legal parental rights.

What's missing from this new change is that taking time off to care for your same-sex spouse or partner is still not covered under FMLA due to the Defense of Marriage Act, which the president promised to overturn.

This is another one of Obama's signature moves with LGBT rights. He gives us just enough so he can pat himself on the back for it, but not enough to piss off the homophobes. Any time the president is criticized for his half-assed efforts on LGBT equality, he gets defensive and reminds us how much he's done for us.

I'm reminded of the scene in "The Color Purple" where the mayor's wife has drops Sofia (Oprah) off to spend Christmas day with her family. She can't manage to get her car in gear to drive herself home. When the menfolk try to help her out, she freaks out and thinks she's being attacked, screaming "Haven't I always been good to you people?!"

From The New York Times:
The new ruling indicates that an employee in a same-sex relationship can qualify for leave to care for the child of his or her partner, even if the worker has not legally adopted the child.

The ruling, in a formal opinion letter, tackles a question not explicitly addressed in the 1993 law. It is one of many actions taken by the Obama administration to respond to the concerns of gay men and lesbians within the constraints of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman as husband and wife.

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.

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama plans to welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights advocates to a White House reception celebrating June as “LGBT Pride Month.”

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, worked with the administration to develop the policy on family leave.

Jennifer W. Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council, another advocacy group, estimated that one million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families were raising two million children.

The upshot of the Labor Department policy, she said, is that “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.”
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