Gay couples to get workplace protections

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Same-sex couples will be eligible for workplace protections and most federal benefits regardless of whether the state they live in allows gay marriage, the Obama administration is set to announce Friday.

The Labor Department will propose a rule Friday morning that interprets the Family and Medical Leave Act to allow same-sex spouses to take leave to care for their loved ones no matter where in the United States they live, according to a White House official.

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And the Justice Department will announce the completion of a review finding that in "almost all instances, federal benefits and obligations for same-sex married couples will be provided, regardless of where the couple lives."

The two moves came as the result of an administrative review of the implications of last year's Supreme Court ruling striking down the heart of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. 

"The President directed Attorney General Holder to work with other members of his Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure the decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, was implemented swiftly and smoothly," the official said. "That effort has been moving forward expeditiously."

The administration is also endorsing legislation to address "a handful of provisions" under existing law that prevent the federal government from extending spousal benefits to same-sex couples in states where gay marriage is not recognized.

Under current law, the Social Security Administration has not paid out survivor benefits to same-sex spouses in the 31 states that ban gay marriage. The law also instructs the Department of Veterans Affairs to deny federal benefits to same-sex couples living in those states.

"The administration is calling for legislation to fix those provisions that prohibit legally married same-sex couples from enjoying the federal benefits they are entitled to," the official said.

The steps Friday come in addition to moves already made by the administration in the wake of the ruling, including regulations forcing insurance companies to offer spousal coverage to gay couples and providing same-sex spouses equal immigration law protections.

The Pentagon has announced its employee benefits will be open to same-sex spouses, and the State Department is adjudicating visa applications citing same-sex marriages the same as it does for heterosexual couples.

The Internal Revenue Service has also said it would recognize same sex marriages for federal tax purposes, regardless of where a couple lives.