FMLA & Gay Couples; PA Gay Minister Fired

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.

You can read more here at the .gov web site.

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.

You can read more here.

Gathering in the M/M Community; $1 Million on Romance Study

Gathering in the M/M Community

In the past ten years or so while I’ve been working online I’ve run across different situations that made me stop and think. I remember following one publishing blog about five years ago where the same people read the posts and commented daily as their routine. Blog readers established an online community, and eventually the entire comment thread became what almost resembled an open seminar in a college. At one point, one of the regulars in the online community went through a bad time and his home burned down. When that happened all the people who had been frequenting this particular blog banned together, formed a support group, and started a small foundation to provide him and his family shelter, clothing, and other things they’d lost in the fire. It was a remarkable thing to watch so much love. And it’s not something I see often. In fact I haven’t seen anything like this since the recent health crisis with T.J. Klune and Eric Arvin.

And this time instead of a small online community formed around a blog, it’s much larger and far more emotional. The M/M Romance community has banned together to not only offer emotional support to Klune and Arvin, but also financial support. When I posted about this here on the blog last Saturday I think they had raised about six thousand dollars and the original goal was ten thousand. You can now check out this link to the web site where they are having the fundraiser and see that it’s reached thirty-one thousand. And I have to admit this is the first time I’ve ever seen this huge show of support and such and outpouring of emotion in any part of the publishing community.

I have to admit that for me it’s sometimes difficult to follow because I went through something very similar to what Klune and Arvin are going through right now when Tony was hospitalized in 2007. I’ve always considered myself a strong person who can take a lot, but each time I see something on social media I get so emotional and so many memories return from 2007, I can’t stay there for long at any one given time. And in the same respect, I try to stay and read all the comments and updates. I get just as emotional in a more positive way watching so many people from all over the world offer support on so many levels. So I’ve been following and offering as much support from a distance as I can. And if this is any indication of how caring the M/M romance community can be I think it speaks very loudly for the people who publish, read, and write M/M romance.   

$1 Million on Romance Study

This isn’t a web site I normally go to for info or even pleasure reading, but when I did a simple search I couldn’t find anything about the topic which means the mainstream media is going blank on it for one reason or another and they want it to disappear. In any event, it seems the federal government spent about one million dollars on a study focused on romance novels.

The federal government has spent nearly $1 million studying romance in popular culture, according to a new report that targets government waste.

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded $914,000 to help fund The Popular Romance Project since 2010, an ongoing study that explores “the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction.”

The fact is people who don’t read romance don’t get romance. They never have and never will. Of course they are calling this government waste because these types often slam romance. If it had been a study on mainstream fiction about a long dull bestseller that people use on coffee tables to impress other others I doubt they’d be calling it government waste. And when you think about it one million dollars may be a great deal of money to most Americans but it’s virtually nothing compared to what the government really wastes money on. Frankly, I’d like to see a government study done on pop culture with political pundits who try to pass themselves off as journalists…on both sides of the political spectrum from ultra conservative Sean Hannity to left wing liberal Rachel Maddow. They’re the ones we should really be studying because they’re making millions manipulating good people on both sides.

You can read more here.

Eric Arvin/T.J. Klune Support; Facebook Celebrates Gay Rights

Eric Arvin/T.J. Klune Support

I don’t normally post many personal things here, but for those who read and write gay romance, and follow a lot of what happens on social media within the community, you probably already know about the serious health situation with Eric Arvin. So far, from what I’ve read, Arvin has been intubated (placed on a ventilator) and they are talking about surgery. I don’t know more than that, other than this is very serious. I know from personal experience with Tony they don’t intubate you and put you in ICU unless it’s serious. There’s really no way to describe what it’s like when you’re going through something like this with a spouse or life partner. And when you’re younger it’s even harder, trust me.

Klune did a youtube video thanking people for their support. And when I watched this it was like going back to 2007 when Tony was intubated, almost died, and spent four months in ICU in Doylestown Hospital with a deadly strain of pneumonia. I posted about this before, but the impact of seeing someone else go through something similar is strong. It’s the first time I’ve seen anything like this since 2007 when I went through it. Things like this change you forever. And when I saw the video Klune made I think I know what I must have looked like back then. Shock. You also find out fast who your friends are. You’d be amazed at how many people do a disappearing act. The week Tony was admitted to the hospital New Hope was having a gay pride event. We found out fast how many “friends” were more interested in gay pride than they were in whether or not Tony lived or died. Those who supported us emotionally will be friends until we die. Those who disappeared were weeded from our lives.

In any event, there’s a support fund for Arvin and Klune to help offset medical expenses here. So far the fund has raised 22,000 dollars. Tony and I were lucky enough to have health insurance that covered his entire hospitalization. This was a huge fear of mine at the time. But to give you an example of how expensive it is to go through a serious illness these days Tony’s final expense was two million dollars. That figure still blows me away.

Facebook Celebrates Gay Rights

It’s nice to see something positive happening around the world with regard to the LGBTI community for a change. For the past few weeks most of what’s been happening seems to involve hate and discrimination in one form or another.

But for Facebook, it’s time to celebrate the many good things that have happened to the LGBTI community this year. Looking back in the 2013 in review video, they remember the most amazing and memorable events that have happened this year.

You can read more here.

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