The U.S. Department of Labor issued a new guidance on August 9, 2013 stating that same-sex couples are eligible to take time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) to care for a spouse with a serious health condition.  This guidance was issued pursuant to the President’s directions to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor “as swiftly and smoothly as possible.”  The Court struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) in Windsor.

Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, issued a memo to agency employees indicating that the agency had updated numerous guidance documents to remove references to DOMA and to clarify that same-sex couples would be eligible for leave to care for a spouse with a serious health condition under the FMLA.

FMLA leave, however, will be available only to same-sex couples in the 13 states that recognize same-sex marriages (CA, CT, DE, IA, ME, MD, MA, MN, NH, NY, RI, VT, and WA) and in Washington, D.C.

Secretary Perez’s memo also stated that the United States Office of Personnel Management announced that it will extend spousal benefits to federal employees who have legally married a spouse of the same sex.