April 15, 2016 at 1:27 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
OPM issues final ‘same-sex spouse’ rule

U.S. Office of Personnel Management has instituted final guidance for same-sex spouses and medical leave. (photo public domain)

U.S. Office of Personnel Management has instituted final guidance for same-sex spouses and medical leave. (photo public domain)

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced on Thursday it has revised the definition of the term “spouse” in federal regulations to strengthen an earlier policy change allowing federal employees with same-sex spouses to use the Family and Medical Leave Act.

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.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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