John M. Becker

Federal Judge Blocks Medical Leave for Same-Sex Couples

Filed By John M. Becker | March 27, 2015 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Family Medical Leave Act, federal judge, federal lawsuit, gay marriage, lawsuit, marriage equality, medical leave, same-sex marriage, states' rights, Texas

ken-paxton-ted-cruz-texas.jpgLast night, a conservative federal judge in north Texas temporarily stopped the Obama administration from implementing a new rule extending the protections of the Family & Medical Leave Act to legally married same-sex couples, whether or not the state where they live currently recognizes their marriage.

Ken Paxton, the new far-right Republican attorney general of Texas (pictured here with wingnut senator Ted Cruz), filed suit against the Labor Department last week in order to block the rule from taking effect today as scheduled. Paxton argued that allowing Texans in same-sex marriages to take medical leave for a sick spouse is a "violation of a federal statute," undermines Texas's "sovereign immunity," and attacks the "foundations of federalism."

Judge Reed O'Connor, an appointee of George W. Bush, agreed, issuing a temporary injunction blocking the new rule from taking effect in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska. The Washington Blade's Chris Johnson reports:

In a 24-page decision, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor, an appointee of George W. Bush, issued the preliminary injunction based on the threat of irreparable harm to Texas, which filed the lawsuit against the regulation.

"The Court concludes that all of the Plaintiff States have met their burden of alleging that the Final Rule will require the states to violate their own laws," O'Connor writes. "Moreover, as the Final Rule is scheduled to take effect on March 27, 2015, Plaintiffs allege a sufficiently immediate threat of harm..."

"The Full Faith and Credit Statute affirms Congress' intention to reserve the power to define marriage and accompanying rights and benefits to the states, and Windsor cabins Congress' authority to aggrandize that power," O'Connor writes. "Congress could not have delegated to the Department the power to define marriage in a way as to override the laws of states prohibiting same-sex marriages."

Predictably, Paxton hailed the injunction as a "win for states' rights." But if the United States Supreme Court rules in June that same-sex couples have a right to marry nationwide, that win will be short-lived indeed.

A copy of the complaint is after the break, via Equality Case Files.

7:15-cv-00056 #18 by Equality Case Files

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