Proposed Legislation Would Make FMLA Leave Available to Care for a Domestic Partner, Same-Sex Spouse and Other Extended Family Members

On April 28, 2009, Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York introduced H.R. 2132, entitled the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act, which would amend the FMLA to permit leave to care for  same-sex spouses, domestic partners and other extended family members.  Specifically, the Act would permit leave to care for a domestic partner, child of a domestic partner, same-sex spouse, parent-in-law, adult child, sibling, or grandparent with a serious health condition. 

Currently, the FMLA permits eligible employees to take family leave to care for a spouse, minor child, adult child who is incapable of self-care, or parent (not in-law) with a serious health condition.  Under the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the term "spouse" is defined as a spouse of the opposite sex.  The proposed Act would define spouse to include a same-sex spouse as determined under applicable state law.  You can access the full text of the proposed Act here

Although the proposed Act would not provide employees with additional leave time, it would expand significantly the instances in which eligible employees could invoke their FMLA rights.