The Two-Way
6:20 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Married Same-Sex Couples To Receive More Federal Benefits

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 4:31 pm

This post was updated at 5:20 p.m. ET.

The Family Medical Leave Act's benefits will be extend to married same-sex couples in all of the U.S., under a White House announced today. The change comes as the Obama administration alters federal policies to fit the Supreme Court's repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act last June.

The newly expanded benefits allow people in a same-sex marriage to take time off from work to care for their spouses. The Labor Department will install nationwide rules to handle those workers' claims.

"The Justice Department and other federal agencies have been working to implement the Supreme Court's ruling," NPR's Tamara Keith reports, "and according to a White House official, in almost all instances federal benefits and obligations will be provided for same-sex couples — no matter where they live."

Tamara adds that the White House has found "a handful of areas where federal law doesn't allow same-sex spouses access to benefits."

Those areas include Social Security and veterans' programs, which operate under rules that Congress would have to change before benefits can apply to same-sex spouses.

Federal judges have ruled against gay-marriage bans in a number of states this year. North Dakota had been the last U.S. state with a ban that was unchallenged in the courts, but that changed when seven couples filed suit earlier this month.

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia; it is banned in 31 others.

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