Married Same-Sex Couples To Receive More Federal Benefits

June 20, 2014

The Family Medical Leave Act’s benefits will soon extend to married same-sex couples in all of the U.S., under a White House plan that will be formally announced today. The change comes as the Obama administration alters federal policies to fit the Supreme Court’s repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act last June.

The newly expanded benefits would allow people in a same-sex marriage to take time off from work to care for their spouses. The Labor Department will reportedly install nationwide rules to handle those workers’ claims.

“The Justice Department and other federal agencies have been working to implement the Supreme Court’s ruling,” NPR’s Tamara Keith reports, “and according to a White House official, in almost all instances federal benefits and obligations will be provided for same-sex couples — no matter where they live.”

Tamara adds that the White House has found “a handful of areas where federal law doesn’t allow same-sex spouses access to benefits.”

Those areas reportedly include Social Security and veterans’ programs, which operate under rules that Congress would have to change before benefits can apply to same-sex spouses.

The new extension of federal benefits will be officially announced Friday. We’ll update this post with more details as they emerge.

Federal judges have ruled against gay-marriage bans in a number of states this year. North Dakota had been the last U.S. state with a ban that was unchallenged in the courts, but that changed when seven couples filed suit earlier this month.

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia; it is banned in 31 others.

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