Is the fifth time the charm? On July 30, 2010, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin introduced the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act, which would broaden the Family and Medical Leave Act to permit leave to care for a same-sex spouse, domestic partner, parent-in-law, adult child, sibling, or grandparent who has a serious health condition. S.B. 3680 (pdf) is nearly identical to H.B. 2132, which has been pending in the U.S. House of Representatives, and that (based on our count) has been introduced in the House on four occasions. What’s notable about S.B. 3680, of course, is that it now is on track to be considered by the Senate for the first time.
Does this signal renewed support for a fairly drastic expansion of the FMLA (i.e., extension of eligiblity to domestic partners, adult children, siblings and grandparents)? Too soon to tell, given that Sen. Durbin is the only Senate sponsor right now. However, the Senator claims to have momentum on his side. In remarks introducing the legislation and citing the Human Rights Campaign, Senator Durbin suggested (pdf) that federally mandated family and medical leave protections keep up with 461 major American corporations, nine states, and the District of Columbia, all of which currently provide varying levels of FMLA benefits to same-sex partners.
The FMLA Inclusion Act is one of several bills pending in Congress that would further expand the FMLA. Despite the number, none has been able to gain any momentum in the 111th Congress.