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Federal judge blocks FMLA for same-sex couples in Texas

Many same-sex couples in Texas have gotten married in other states that recognize same-sex marriage. Unfortunately, despite being married, same-sex marriages are not recognized in Texas. This prohibits these spouses from obtaining certain benefits like the Family and Medical Leave Act. 

FMLA allows certain employees to take unpaid leave from their jobs without the risk of losing their position. FMLA is available for eligible employees after childbirth, adoption, serious medical issues and family emergencies. 

FMLA is a federal benefit, and a new rule states that all married couples, including same-sex couples, can be granted FMLA even if the state they live in does not recognize same-sex marriage. 

This ruling led to the Texas Attorney General filing a lawsuit against the federal government to block the FMLA change because it violated Texas law. Now, a federal judge in Texas has blocked the federal rule, granting a preliminary injunction. This means that same-sex spouses in Texas cannot receive FMLA benefits. 

The debate of same-sex marriage continues in Texas. Lawmakers in the state have already said that this issue will have to be taken up by the Supreme Court before the debate ends. The Supreme Court is also expected to rule on the legality of states banning same-sex marriage. 

Same-sex couples who are married and residing in Texas may want to consult with an attorney to discuss ways they can protect themselves and their families until the FMLA issue is hopefully resolved. 

Source: The Christian Science Monitor, "Texas judge blocks family, medical leave for same-sex couples in four states," Cristina Maza, March 27, 2015

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