In a statement, OPM said that in an action that took effect on April 7, the new definition replaces language from the Defense of Marriage Act that defined spouse as a “legal union between one man and one woman.”
The statement notes that in October 2013 OPM issued a memorandum to all federal agencies requiring that they comply with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling handed down four months earlier overturning DOMA. The memorandum said that, among other things, the term spouse would be defined as a “partner in any legally recognized marriage” and federal employees with same-sex married spouses could take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
The latest change ‘codifies the new definition in federal law,” the OPM statement says.
“Fairness and equality have been guiding principles of this administration and I am very proud of the work OPM does to ensure all federal employees, including those in the LGBT community, are treated equally,” said OPM Acting Director Beth F. Cobert.
“Building on that work…OPM has issued a final rule which revises the definition of ‘spouse’ in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to permit federal employees with same-sex spouses to use FMLA leave in the same manner as federal employees with opposite-sex spouses,” Cobert said.