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Texas Sues to Stop Gays From Taking Family Leave


By Matt Baume

It’s been nearly two months since marriage was supposed to start in Alabama, and the state still doesn’t have its act together. Texas just filed a lawsuit to prevent gays and lesbians from taking family medical leave. And it’s going to take at least five different bills to overturn Michigan’s marriage ban.

Alabama’s still a mess of conflicting rulings. Right now, it looks like the only way that judges could comply with every order they’ve received is if nobody ever gets married ever again. First a federal court said judges have to issue licenses, then the State Supreme Court said they don’t have to. And then last week, Judge Callie Granade issued a new ruling that said, in essence, “yes you do.”

This leaves judges stuck in the same tug of war as before: state courts say one thing, federal courts say another. It’s like a big legal game of chicken, and neither side is willing to budge. The state court won’t back down, because they believe they’re right. And the federal court won’t back down, because they actually ARE right.

Meanwhile, anti-gay politicians have continued their desperate rhetoric. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley filed an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court last week, claiming that marriage equality harms children. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued the Obama administration, claiming that the state should be allowed to withhold family and medical leave from married gays and lesbians. And Idaho Republicans asked Congress to impeach all of the judges who ruled that marriage bans are unconstitutional. That is a lot of judges, what they’re really asking for is a massive gutting of federal courts.

But this limited backlash aside, most lawmakers are still moving in the direction of supporting greater equality. Michigan Democrats have proposed five bill that would repeal various marriage bans. Puerto Rico, which previously defended its marriage ban, just reversed course and will now allow it to be overturned. And Congress is considering reforms that would allow LGBT couples to access Social Security benefits that they previously couldn’t.

And public support is growing too. Last week the Presbyterian Church voted to recognize gay and lesbian couples as married. And a new survey in Wisconsin shows that 70 percent of residents say that overturning the state’s marriage ban has had no effect on their lives. Of the people who said it did have an effect, about half said it was positive.


  • 1. DeadHead  |  March 23, 2015 at 9:07 am

    An awesome in depth interview, Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed profiles Jim Obergefell, one of the plaintiffs in the challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage.

  • 2. Mike_Baltimore  |  March 23, 2015 at 10:17 am

    FML is unpaid leave (therefore is not a direct cost to the state), and it is already up to a supervisor to grant it or not, so this law suit would seem to be just another way that Texas is showing animus to the GLBT community. When will judges catch on to the games of animus the states are playing?

    When Hans was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, I was fortunate enough to have a boss who told me to take as much leave (sick, annual or leave without pay [called LWOP in Federal parlance] ) as I needed to care for him. This was more than 11 years prior to the SCOTUS decision in the 'Windsor' case that told the Federal government to grant ME rights to all who were married (June 2013) (and I wasn't even married to Hans, as ME didn't arrive in Maryland until January 2013, and ME didn't arrive even in Massachusetts until more than a year after Hans died).

  • 3. Elihu_Bystander  |  March 23, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    There have always been a few good people out there. After I retired from active duty as a dental officer US Navy, I continued practice as a DOD volunteer. My supervisor took the time to let me know that my partner, Bill, was included and would be welcome at all clinic social events.

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