POLITICS: PennAve

Obama administration extends benefits for same-sex couples

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Gay Marriage,Eric Holder,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Justice Department,Gay rights,Law,LGBT

The Obama administration is extending more federal benefits to same-sex married couples, including allowing employees to take leave to care for a same-sex spouse no matter where they live.

The Labor Department plans to change Family and Medical Leave Act regulations to clarify that all of the provisions apply to same-sex couples, who are eligible to take leave to assist their spouses, according to a White House official.

“In almost all instances, federal benefits and obligations for same-sex married couples will be provided, regardless of where the couple lives,” the official said.

President Obama also plans to call on Congress to change other laws to ensure that federal benefits, including those provided under Social Security, are extended equally to same-sex married couples.

The actions come more than three years after Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department would no longer apply the Defense of Marriage Act in court because of Obama's “strong belief that it was discriminatory and unconstitutional,” the White House official said.

The Supreme Court last year struck down section three of the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

After that decision, Holder conducted a nearly year-long review of all federal regulations.

Other federal agencies have already clarified their regulations. For instance, the Department of Defense has declared that the same benefits that are available to spouses in traditional marriages are available to same-sex spouses, and Health and Human Services published guidance clarifying that if insurances companies offer spousal coverage, they cannot decline to offer the same coverage to same-sex spouses.

In the same way, the Department of Homeland Security, through the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, announced that immigration law will apply to same-sex marriages the same way it applies to traditional marriages and the Internal Revenue Service now recognizes same-sex marriages for all federal tax purposes.

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