FMLA & Gay Couples
This was something I learned this morning and never knew because it never directly affected me. By the time Tony was hospitalized in 2007 I’d already been in business for myself for years and working as a freelance writer. So I basically had to contact editors, let them know what was happening, and tell them I had to take an extended break from work and couldn’t meet all my deadlines. It was summer and things were slower. All the editors I worked with at the time offered me their support and told me I had nothing to worry about. But that’s not the case with all gay couples who don’t have the protection of legal same sex marriage. And unlike couples who are legally married and do fall under the guidelines of FMLA, many still have no protection whatsoever when a partner is taken ill for an extended period of time.
FMLA is the Family and Medical Leave Act. It covers spouses and family members. Here’s an overview from the .gov website.
The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are entitled to:
- Twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
- the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
- the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
- to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
- a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
- any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or
- Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the servicemember’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).
I learned about this earlier today while reading through an update on social media from author, T.J. Klune. He’d been informed by his place of employment that because same sex marriage is not legal in his state he wouldn’t qualify for FMLA while is partner, Eric Arvin, is in the hospital. Fortunately for Klune, his employer was gracious enough to tell him it didn’t matter and that he/she would work with him each step of the way and that his job was not in jeopardy. But not all employers are as kind and it could have made a serious situation even more difficult to deal with.
So this is yet another reason why it’s so important for same sex couples to have legalized marriage on a federal level throughout the US. Right now, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania where I live, I wonder how many gay couples are dealing with issues like FMLA with nowhere to turn. It’s one of the smaller things we don’t see mentioned all the time in the fight for equality, but can be vital to those who are affected by it. And that has to change soon, because now it’s even more unfair to see that same sex couples in some states are protected and those unfortunate enough to live in other states aren’t. It’s actually gone beyond LGBT discrimination and now it’s become discrimination based on where you live.
PA Gay Minister Fired
I posted about the Pennsylvania minister who has recently come under fire for performing a marriage ceremony for his gay son and partner. And he didn’t even do this in PA. He did it in Massachusetts where gay marriage is legal and recognized on a federal level.
According to church officials, their “Book of Discipline” condemns Schaefer’s behavior, and he was told to resign by Thursday if he could not respect the rules.
Jurors who convicted him in a church trial told Schaefer he should take the month to decide if he agreed with the church’s belief that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Of course I think this is unfortunate, I’m not a fan of organized religion of any kind, and I know how these things work. The problem with this situation is that as horrible as it is and as much as these things are always a reflection on the so-called good Christian values to think that a church would deny a minister something like this, I do believe in the complete separation of church and state. Right down to the bottom line.