Maternity, sick leave for gay spouses OK'd at Labor Dept.

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Gay Marriage,Labor,DOMA,Thomas Perez

Urged by President Obama to extend sweeping federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples following a court victory for gay rights, the Department of Labor Friday told employees that spousal leave for maternity and long-term illness will be included with other federal benefits like retirement.

Newly-installed Labor Secretary Thomas Perez is moving swiftly to provide benefits to the spouses of gay and lesbian employees now that the Defense of Marriage Act is dead, the result of a June Supreme Court decision.

"As the president directed, the Department of Labor has begun to coordinate with other federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, to implement this ruling as swiftly and smoothly as possible," he said in an internal email to workers.

"I have directed agency heads within the department to look for every opportunity to ensure that we are implementing this decision in a way that provides the maximum protection for workers and their families," added Perez.

The Office of Personnel Management this week announced that the federal government would extend federal benefits to the spouses of legally-married same-sex workers, giving them the same rights and benefits of traditionally married couples.

Perez's action adds spousal leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Generally, that provides 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave.

He also ordered that any reverence to DOMA be erased from department human resources guidance.

"By extending unemployment compensation, health insurance and other important benefits to federal employees and their families, regardless of whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages, the Obama administration is making real the promise of this important decision. We will continue to examine the full range of department programs to ensure that we are fully implementing the Supreme Court's decision," said Perez.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at