None of the federal protections, of course, apply to same-sex couples. The non-biological parent of the couple is not entitled to any parental leave under federal law. Since FMLA is a federal law, even employers in states that legally recognize same-sex couples don’t necessarily have to offer these benefits to employees. (In some cases, however, state law requires them to offer similar benefits, or individual companies may choose to do so. If the non-bio parent later does a second-parent adoption of the child—if such adoption is even legal in that state—she may qualify for parental leave as a new adoptive parent, but that could be months after the birth.)
Here in Massachusetts, we’re lucky. The Washington Post has reported that “companies in Massachusetts are hardly ever using federal law as an excuse to deny equal benefits to same-sex couples married in that state.” In New Jersey, however, where same-sex couples can unite in civil unions that are supposedly equivalent to marriage, “at least 1 in every 7 civil-unioned couples in New Jersey is being denied equal benefits by an employer.”
I’ve written before about how the family-rights movement and the LGBT movement need to work together. It’s great that organizations like Moms Rising are pushing for more family-friendly policies. I searched in vain on their Web site to find any statement of support for the rights of LGBT workers and their families. Unless family-rights groups also work to ensure that all families—mine included—are recognized as such, they’ll still be leaving some of us out in the cold.