Obama administration redefines ‘spouse’ to include gay couples

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Gay married couples will now be included in the definition of the word “spouse” used by the Obama administration.

The Department of Labor yesterday issued a new regulation, 52 pages long, which was published today.

The regulation updates the term “spouse” including gay couples, allowing same-sex married couples to get job-protected leave from work to care for their partner or partner’s children as defined by the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The new definition will apply to any same-sex couple who were legally married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal.

It does not matter whether the couple now lives in a state where same-sex marriage has not yet been legalised.

The regulation states: “The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) revises the regulation defining ‘spouse’ under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.”

“Because of the Supreme Court’s holding in Windsor that section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, the Department is no longer prohibited from recognizing same-sex marriages as a basis for FMLA spousal leave.”

“…the Department is aware that the language surrounding marriage is evolving and that not all married individuals choose to use the traditional terms of husband or wife when referring to their spouse.”

“The Department intended the proposed definition to cover all spouses in legally valid marriages as defined in the regulation regardless of whether they use the terms husband or wife. The Department adopts the definition of spouse as proposed.”

“Legal recognition of same-sex marriage has expanded rapidly and the Department anticipates that the number of States and countries recognizing same-sex marriage will continue to grow.”