Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Maine bill extends family leave protections to domestic partners

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A bill on its way to final enactment in the Legislature would broaden Maine's Family Medical Leave Act to include domestic partners.

The law already protects employees who take time off to care for spouses, parents and children with serious health conditions.

The bill given final approval Monday in the House of Representatives also allows employees to take time off from work to care for a sick domestic partner.

Maine's Family Medical Leave law allows those who've been employed for 12 consecutive months by the same employer to receive up to 10 weeks of family medical leave. Leave can be either paid or unpaid. The bill to extend leave to domestic partners faces a final vote in the Senate as early as Tuesday.

During a hearing in March, gay and lesbian advocates spoke in favor of the bill. But it also received support from those who said it doesn't just apply to gays.

State Rep. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, said he's been registered as a domestic partner with his girlfriend since 2004. While his partner is provided with leave through her employer, Jackson said other similar unmarried couples would stand to gain protection under the bill.

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