National Partnership for Women & Families

Nation’s Top FMLA Expert Applauds Obama Administration for Taking “Pro-Family Step” by Expanding Family & Medical Leave to Include LGBT Families, Regardless of Where They Live

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
WASHINGTON, D.C. — June 20, 2014 —

“The proposed rule President Obama announced today will offer welcome protection to all workers — whether in a same-sex or opposite-sex marriage — who are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), when they need family leave to care for a spouse with a serious health condition. The proposed rule recognizes that, no matter who you choose to marry, all spouses have a right to care for one another. Recognizing that right strengthens the nation by bringing us closer to true marriage equality.

This is a very welcome pro-family step that makes our country more fair and family friendly. It’s about time.

We applaud adoption of the updated definition of “spouse,” which will mean that all FMLA-eligible employees in same-sex marriages will be able to take FMLA leave to care for a spouse or family member, whether or not their state has recognized same-sex marriage.

Workers have used FMLA leave more than 100 million times since it was enacted 21 years ago. Today’s action is a step in the right direction to cover more workers, but there is more to do to make FMLA leave available to more workers who need leave for more reasons.

And perhaps most urgently, we need Congress to pass the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would establish a national paid family and medical leave insurance program; as well as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would put an end, once and for all, to the shameful days when discrimination against LGBT workers is legal.

Today’s action is a critical step forward for the nation.”

The National Partnership for Women & Families drafted and led the fight for the Family and Medical Leave Act. The organization is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at

  Please leave this field empty