Family Values @ Work

Domestic Partners Officially Family in Colorado

May 7, 2013

Steve hasn’t had a lot to celebrate in recent years. But he’s thrilled to have been part of a movement in Colorado that expanded the definition of family under the state’s Family and Medical Leave Act.

The win comes too late for Steve and his partner, Belinda, a former tri-athlete who suffered a terrible fall in 2011 when a crosswind took her and her bicycle off the side of a mountain. During multiple surgeries for massive injuries and later during her recovery at home, Steve took time to care for Belinda. He was eligible for FMLA at his job, but because he and Belinda weren’t married, he wasn’t allowed to use it.

That changed on May 3, when Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law the Family Care Act. Those in civil unions and registered as domestic partners will now be covered under FMLA. The bill received bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

“The Family Care Act is a vital complement to the Colorado Civil Unions Act,” said Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, Senate sponsor of the bill, referring to another law enacted a month earlier. “Family comes first, and taking care of your family is part of being in a loving, committed relationship.  Civil unions isn’t only about rights, it’s about responsibilities for one another through sickness and health.”

“Colorado families look differently today than they did 20 years ago,” said Rep. Cherylin Peniston, House sponsor of the Family Care Act. “With Civil Unions signed into law recently, it is only fitting we expand our family medical leave laws to reflect these Colorado families. This modest expansion will allow Coloradans’ jobs to be protected when they are faced with a serious illness of their significant other.”



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