President Barack Obama is just days removed from announcing plans to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation. Gay rights supporters applauded the move and it also continued Obama’s path towards assuring equality for all Americans. The president made another move on Friday by directing the Labor Department to create rules that would extend family leave benefits to gay couples.
As there has become an increase in families led by same-sex couples, it is becoming extremely important that they have access to the benefits allowed under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Currently only states that recognize gay marriage honor the benefits, but under the rules that are to be created, all employees would be eligible for leave to care for a same-sex spouse who is ill, even in those states that do not recognize gay marriage.
According to a report by the Associated Press, the White House is promoting the move as part of Obama’s push to expand protections to gays and lesbians as a means to them having access to the same federal benefits available to heterosexual couples. This mission was set in place almost a year ago when the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Although the federal government can extend most benefits, there are still some benefits that current law prohibits the federal government from extending.
The Justice Department also made an announce that it has completed a review as to what those benefits they can extend to gay couples are, which has given Obama the lead way in assuring those benefits are indeed granted. Such benefits are access to health insurance, tax benefits and immigration privileges. The move also comes a couple days after Obama’s Tuesday night speech at the Democratic National Committee LGBT Gala at Gotham Hall. The Nation’s leader talked about the progress the country has made towards embracing marriage equality and all of the accomplishments that have occurred during his administration in transcending LGBT rights.